Class of 2018, Bachelor of Science in biology, minor in chemistry
In his first two and a half years as a Radford University student, Luis Arias has traveled to the Amazon rainforest, conducted original biological research, and contributed to local conservation projects. With a little more than a year to go before graduation, Arias looks forward to continuing his efforts to make a difference locally and globally.
As a high school student, Arias was attracted to Radford University because of its many academic opportunities and desirable student to faculty ratio.
“I picked Radford University because of its size and location. I felt I could develop a close relationship with my professors. Along with those relationships, I knew I would have the chance to do actual independent research that I would not have been able to do at a larger state school,” said Arias.
Conducting undergraduate research has been an invaluable experience for Arias. In May 2016, Arias participated in the Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE), an annual research trip where undergraduate students travel to Peru to conduct original biological research in a rainforest ecosystem. Arias’ research project focused on how deforestation affects dung beetles.
“RARE gave me a new perspective. I now view myself as a global citizen and not just a Radford citizen,” explained Arias. “This opportunity gave me the chance to learn in a way I never would have from sitting in a classroom. I was able to conduct a research experiment in the most biodiverse region of the world.”
After witnessing extensive deforestation in the Amazon, the trip motivated Arias to become involved in conservation efforts at home.
“RARE may have ended but the memories will always stay. I am currently working on recycling projects at the university and spreading awareness for the program. I hope I can bring awareness to the issue and encourage others that we don’t have to be part of the problem, but instead be a part of the solution," he said.
Arias’ involvement in RARE and other efforts stems from his love of the mountains and the natural beauty around Radford. He spends his free time swimming, hiking, and running in Radford and the surrounding New River Valley.
After graduation, Arias plans to apply to medical school and dreams of becoming a pediatrician. He wants to put into practice the experiences he has had and the lessons he has learned at Radford University.
“I have always been interested in human anatomy and physiology, and I feel the greatest joy after helping someone. I hope to help children domestically and on a global scale,” said Arias.