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Oct 06

Jacob Enders.jpgEminence Fellow Jacob Enders may dedicate much of his time to science, but it hasn't stopped him from learning to recite the alphabet backwards, do one-handed push-ups, or sing impressively enough to join one of OSU's well-known acapella groups, Scarlet Fever. The 4th-year from Chagrin Falls, Ohio also enjoys theater and reading. Currently, he is making his way through two fascinating books on medicine: Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. A slightly less fun fact about Enders is that he had not one, not two, but twelve teeth pulled in middle school. Fortunately, modern medical technology makes dentist and doctor visits much more efficient—and hopefully much less intimidating— than they used to be, and there's a high probability that Enders will be helping develop such technology in the near future.

Enders became interested in biomedical engineering after shadowing a surgeon in high school and realizing what a critical role medical equipment could play in helping patients. After graduation, he will attend medical school for four years to become an orthopedic or vascular surgeon. He is also interested in the possibility of designing medical equipment while working as a physician. Enders recognizes that medical school will be even more rigorous than honors engineering coursework; he is also preparing for the idea of moving to a less familiar city and having to start over with meeting people. However, the huge influx of new knowledge and new environments is part of the intrigue. "I think I'm most excited to be learning about all the fascinating mechanisms that make us who we are, and how problems with these mechanisms lead to life-altering diseases," he says. He is considering attending Case Western University, the University of Virginia, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cornell University, and—of course— Ohio State. He has interviewed with a few schools already and has several interviews coming up throughout October.

For the past two years, Enders has conducted research in the Microsystems for Mechanobiology and Medicine laboratory. "I study cancer cell migration using DNA origami force sensors," he explains. In addition to his research here, he worked as an intern for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this past summer. There, he listened to talks by biophysicists from prestigious research universities in the U.S. as well as a leading biochemistry researcher from the U.K. Enders also worked on an independent project, presented a poster, and wrote a paper about his work. Much of his time, however, was spent working in the lab with a post-baccalaureate student. "We used Atomic Force Microscopy to study the effects of base-pair mismatching on supercoiled DNA conformation, which had implications in understanding how people develop cancer," he says. The internship gave him exposure to a different field of research in a different setting than what he already had exposure to.

Enders notes that the Eminence program has allowed him to focus on research, classes, extracurricular involvement, and volunteering rather than worrying about how to afford his education. For example, in addition to recently joining Scarlet Fever, he is a member of Tau Beta Pi (the nation's oldest engineering honor society), PassGo (an organization that helps veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals find employment), and Phi Kappa Phi (an interdisciplinary service organization). He will soon be coordinating an undergraduate research forum for Tau Beta Pi for the second year in a row. He currently works as a teaching assistant for the Fundamentals of Engineering course sequence, which is taken by all first-years in the Honors program. Ender's own involvement in Honors was part of what motivated him to conduct undergraduate research; he wanted hands-on practice with the skills he was learning in class. Of the G.O.A.L.S. of H&S, he is particular drawn to global awareness, original inquiry, and academic enrichment. However, looking at his accomplishments in his four years at OSU, it is obvious that he has incorporated each of the five G.O.A.L.S. into his experience.

At last year's H&S Launch, Enders spoke about his personal experience with one of his favorite G.O.A.L.S.—original inquiry. This year, he got to be one of the emcees for the event. He and fellow emcee Olivia were given a script for the morning, but were also able to add personal touches, talk a bit about their own backgrounds, and make up a few of the inevitable corny jokes. Enders recalls that one of the most exciting moments was yelling "O-H!" to the crowd and hearing approximately 2,300 new students respond with the "I-O!" He suspects that students' favorite part was singing Carmen, Ohio together for what was likely their first time. He likes to think they enjoyed the corny jokes, too.

Thinking back to his own freshman year, sitting in that same auditorium, Enders notes how much his future goals have evolved and how many experiences he never would have expected to have, whether it was working for the NIH, emceeing the Launch, or being in the pit for a Bastille concert a few weeks ago. He does miss the many trips to Mirror Lake Creamery from that first year. For nostalgia's sake (or perhaps the ice cream, grilled mac and cheese, or only decent General Tso's on campus), he hopes to go back one more time before he graduates. If it doesn't open back up by spring, he just might have to make a trip from medical school next year.  

"For the last three years, I have attended a dinner with President Drake as part of my scholarship group, and at each of those dinners he has always asked us one thing that we wish we could improve about Ohio State," says Enders.  "My answer was to finish with all the construction."


By Christina Szuch, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member