Ryan LaGross: Wallace C. and Janet S. Dunham Prize
The Wallace C. and Janet S. Dunham Prize was established to honor an undergraduate student who not only overcame adversity but maintained a positive outlook despite the challenges life presented them – all while achieving personal growth and academic success.
Ryan LaGross overcame challenges that would end many students’ studies. In the face of adversity he not only persisted, he prospered. He will graduate on time with a B.S. in Zoology and a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Outside the classroom, he embodied UMaine’s mission of research and service.
In the laboratory, LaGross conducted blood cell research in anemic moose and assisted faculty with transitioning to a new veterinary diagnostic lab facility. He also aided with field research, where he collected ticks in order to estimate tick abundance in forest stands, which has implications for both health of forestry workers and wildlife. His capstone research uses zebrafish as a model to advance understanding of muscular dystrophy.
He served as treasurer of the Pre-Veterinary Club and a Maine Learning Assistant in biology and organic chemistry. He spent his summers working as a laboratory technician, testing the quality of Maine’s lakes, rivers and drinking water and in a veterinary clinic.
LaGross also dedicated his time to numerous community service projects. He collected supplies for homeless shelters, needy families, and nursing homes. He visits nursing homes and volunteers at the Siesta Sanctuary where he helps care for abandoned and rescued parrots. LaGross also volunteered as a veterinary assistant for the Champion the Cure Challenge trail riding event.
After he receives his degree, LaGross plans to attend medical school.