Seniors Tell All: Timothy Palpant

Timothy Palpant

As the spring semester draws to a close, seniors will once again don their blue commencement gowns and head off to new adventures. We asked five College majors to dish on their most memorable classes, favorite campus spots, dream jobs and what they’ll miss most about Carolina. Read more senior profiles: Lindsey Jefferies, Gabriel Whaley, Elizabeth McCain and Amber Koonce.

Timothy Palpant likes to keep busy. When he won a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship last year — the awards go to outstanding students in engineering, mathematics or natural sciences — his largely independent research was judged to be on par with that of graduate students and even post-doctoral fellows. Palpant graduated in 2008 from Leesville Road High School in Raleigh and is attending UNC on a Carolina Scholarship. Busy as he is, Palpant still finds time to smell the roses … or at least take pictures of them.

Hometown: Noblesville, Ind., a suburb of Indianapolis, but my family moved to Raleigh about 10 years ago.

Major: Biology and Applied Math

Most memorable class at UNC:  By far my class with Alain Laederach of the biology department. The course is called “Systems Biology,” and it is essentially about using computer programming to answer biological research questions. It has been unique in that it is a small class — only nine people — and there is a large emphasis on learning skills that will be professionally useful. The course is challenging, but Dr. Laederach has been a great teacher and has shown a lot of interest in the students and helping us learn.

Favorite campus spot: Coker Arboretum. I’ve always thought the campus was gorgeous, and the Arboretum is a particularly gorgeous part of it. Every spring I try to make it out to take pictures while the flowers are in bloom, and it is generally just a nice place to hang out outside. It’s not that big of an area, but the trails wind in such a way that it seems like you could walk around for hours.

Dream job: I’m planning on going to grad school next year, so I try not to think about “dream jobs” too much! In earnest, though, my dream job is doing research at a university. It’s an environment that I love, and the open-endedness of research particularly fits my personality and talents.

What I will miss most about Carolina: The community, both my personal little circle of it and the larger atmosphere of the university. Having friends and teachers who are studying a wide array of subjects and are excited about them makes for a great environment, and I love that I can be drilling down ever-deeper into my little area of specialization while still being a part of the broader intellectual community at UNC.

[ By Glenn McDonald, spring ’12 Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine. Photo by Mary Lide Parker ’10 ]