For most people, it’s easy to feel helpless and discouraged in the wake of man-made disasters like oil spills. But Dallas Fonseca isn’t like most people. In fact, ecological disasters don’t deflate the double biochemistry and mathematics major—they compel him to act. It’s a compulsion Dallas can trace back to 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, destroying marine ecosystems and laying waste to over 1,000 miles of coastline.

“With my scientific interest, I want to be somebody who does something about this."

That “something” is finding a way to harness molecular biology and genetics and to use natural organisms to combat pollution and clean up damaged ecosystems. Dallas is well on his way toward making that goal a reality. 

As a junior in 2017, he was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most competitive prizes offered in the sciences. He was also selected to be part of the Amgen Scholars Program, sponsored by biotech company Amgen, which places undergraduates in labs at premiere research institutions across the United States. 

Dallas spent his summer working in a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He says the mentorship he received from IC assistant biology professor Te-Wen Lo provided him the foundational skills to achieve these honors, and is “definitely one of the most amazing outcomes that have come of me being an Ithaca College student."