As a senior with a double major in dance and biochemistry & molecular biology, Vicky Zhou is used to a full schedule, but Saturday, May 12, proved especially challenging. She presented a project at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium in the morning, then performed in the “Physical Graffiti” undergraduate dance concert that afternoon and evening. Nobody who knows Zhou doubted she could pull it off. Throughout her college career, she’s turned in a stellar academic performance, earning a host of prestigious scholarships and honors. She’s a member of the USA Today All-USA College Academic Second Team and a Barry M. Goldwater scholar. She recently received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, which she’ll use to pursue a doctorate at Harvard Medical School this fall. Zhou credits the Campuswide Honors Program with enriching her college experience; she’s president of the Campuswide Honors Student Council. “It’s like having a home within a university, where you know everyone,” she says. While getting her degrees, she also has found time to help others; in 2005 she started the Inter-Generational Outreach service club to “connect students with seniors.” “We visit retirement homes, and we dance and play music. It inspires the seniors to talk about their own stories.” Born in China, Zhou moved with her family to Indiana when she was 2 and has lived in Orange County since she was 8. She began dancing at age 5. At UCI she’s focused on ballet, modern and jazz, performing in the dance department’s “Dance Visions” concert. Although her majors appear to be worlds apart, she’s found “they balance each other very well.” “They use different parts of the brain, but both stress creativity and innovation,” she says. Lately her research has centered on gene expression; at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where she spent last summer and continues to work remotely, she’s developed a project called WormView – a visualization interface for the model organism database for Caenorhabditis elegans – “basically, a roundworm.” She presented her project at the symposium, which is sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and allows hundreds of undergraduates to share their research results. It was Zhou’s third symposium presentation. She also served on the student editorial board for The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal and has received two UROP fellowships. Zhou will pursue a doctorate in biological and biomedical science, and she hopes to become a research professor. “I love research because you’re at the forefront of knowledge,” she says. “No one knows the answers to the questions you’re investigating. It’s so new.”