LSU Honors College Senior Zachary Fitzpatrick Named a Finalist in Rhodes Scholarship Competition

11/18/2014 09:54 AM

BATON ROUGE – LSU Honors College senior Zachary Fitzpatrick has been named a finalist in the 2014-15 Rhodes Scholarship competition.

Fitzpatrick, a native of Holden, Louisiana, is an Honors College and College of Science senior who is majoring in biochemistry, with minors in political science and chemistry. He is a LA-STEM Research Scholar and an LSU-HHMI Undergraduate Research Fellow, and was recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition with an Honorable Mention in both 2012 and 2013. He expects to graduate from LSU with College Honors in 2015.

“We are proud of everything that Zachary has accomplished while at LSU, and know that he has incredible things awaiting him in the future. He has shown the kind of academic excellence and drive that places him among the elite group of potential Rhodes Scholars,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “LSU has had a Rhodes finalist every year for the past three years and 14 past Rhodes recipients, proving the educational value and quality at LSU is second to none.”

Fitzpatrick interviews for the Rhodes Scholarship on Saturday, Nov. 22, in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Zach has been extremely active in the Honors College and across LSU,” said Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “I’m delighted that another outstanding Honors student has advanced in this competition – it’s a tremendous testament to the educational opportunities at LSU and the quality of our students.”

As an HHMI Fellow, Fitzpatrick has conducted research on gene therapy techniques in rare diseases medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; the Pasteur Institute of Lille, France; and Harvard Medical School. This past summer, Fitzpatrick worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, where he continued to explore the use of non-pathogenic viruses as gene therapy delivery mechanisms.

“Zachary is a product of perseverance, humility, self-discipline, passion for research, exceptional academic prowess, and commitment to serving mankind through scientific discovery,” said Isiah Warner, LSU Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor of Chemistry. “He truly understands the broader implications of science and has developed into an accomplished researcher with experience and skills equivalent to senior level graduate students. His selection as a Rhodes finalist is certainly a great testament to his ability to leverage the quality training he has received at LSU with his enhanced opportunities across the globe.”

Fitzpatrick has conducted public health research on practices in pediatric immunology and gene-therapy pricing. He is writing his Honors Thesis on the development and enhancement of virus vectors for therapeutic gene transfer, and on the ethical implications of gene therapy implementation.

“The LA-STEM Research Scholars Program at LSU has served as the foundation of my scientific and scholarly pursuits as an undergraduate student and has undoubtedly prepared me for a purposeful career in academic medicine,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a LA-STEM Scholar, my professional aspirations have been profoundly shaped through my participation in the LSU-HHMI Program. These programs have fostered my interactions with a diverse set of mentors who have stimulated, encouraged, and supported in infinite ways my professional and intellectual development and for whom I am especially grateful.”

Fitzpatrick has served in LSU Student Government as College of Science Student Senator, where he helped to implement initiatives that encourage undergraduate involvement in research. He has also served as a Reading Friend in East Baton Rouge Public Schools, as a volunteer for the Baton Rouge Boys and Girls Club, and as a Child Life Volunteer in emergency room of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Fitzpatrick has been named the LSU College of Science 2012 Most Outstanding Sophomore and 2014 Most Outstanding Senior, the LSU Honors College 2013 Most Outstanding Junior, and in 2013 received the College of Science Dean’s Award.

“Zachary is a shining example of the outstanding students we have at LSU. His scholarly achievements, research experiences and commitment to bettering his community bring honor to the College of Science and LSU as a whole,” said Dean of the LSU College of Science Cynthia Peterson.

The Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1902 as the first existing international fellowship program, and is widely considered the world’s most prestigious scholarship. Each year, 32 American undergraduates are selected as Rhodes Scholars, and as such receive full financial support to pursue a graduate degree at Oxford University. Fourteen LSU students have received the Rhodes Scholarship, with Drew Lamonica Arms in 1995 as the most recent recipient.

If he receives the Rhodes Scholarship, Fitzpatrick intends to pursue both a Master of Science in Neuroscience and a Master of Science in Global Health Sciences at Oxford.

“Through a Rhodes Scholarship, I hope to position myself to make a broad and meaningful impact in the rare diseases community which is often overlooked in both the public health and research sectors,” Fitzpatrick said. “Studying at Oxford would bestow a platform from which I can both advance life-changing therapies for rare diseases in a clinical setting, and convey the complex burdens shouldered by individuals suffering these diseases through public health channels.”

Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead. For more information on the Rhodes Scholarship, visit

“This marks the third time in three years that an Honors College student has been named a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship – clear proof that our students compete with the very best in the nation in academics, leadership and service,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, Director of Fellowship Advising at the LSU Honors College. “Zach is among the best, from the scope of his research, to his numerous publications and awards, to his initiative in seizing research opportunities from Harvard to Philadelphia to France. Throughout his undergraduate career he has never lost his focus on improving the health and lives of people with his many gifts, and this recognition by the Rhodes Trust is well-deserved.”

The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program was established by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives, or OSI, in 2003, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Louisiana Board of Regents. LA-STEM admits students who show great potential to succeed in STEM areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and who have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders. OSI looks for students who are committed to promoting diversity in the sciences in their undergraduate and graduate careers. Students are required to maintain the highest of academic standards to remain in the program. They also exemplify a strong dedication to mentoring, enthusiasm for diverse cultural experiences and a passion for serving the community. For more information on LA-STEM at LSU, visit

The LSU Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising assists students in applying for prestigious undergraduate and post-graduate fellowships and scholarships. For more information about our fellowship advising resources, or to schedule an appointment, contact

Liz  Billet 
LSU Honors College

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014