Jacob Varkey

Jacob Varkey is a man dedicated to education. This is, perhaps, nowhere more evident than in his work with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). In conjunction with the HHMI and HSU's Pre-Medical Association, Jacob has helped many an aspiring undergrad attend leading medical schools across the country.

According to Jacob, Humboldt State's commitment to the community is part of why this program has flourished. "The reason we are so successful is the kinds of students we attract here. For the most part they are service-oriented. And that's a big plus. Many of the students have indicated that they want to serve the community."

In addition to working one-on-one with pre-med students, Jacob is also involved with the California State University's Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP). Thanks to a generous grant from the National Science Foundation, Jacob and the AMP are working to give students from traditionally under-represented backgrounds a boost when it comes to the sciences.

Outside of the classroom Jacob counts gardening (he has over 100 rhododendrons on his property, although many, he says, were "inherited" from the previous owners) and traveling among his hobbies. This year, in fact, Jacob is taking an opportunity to spend roughly six months in his native India on a sabbatical that includes an opportunity to teach at his alma mater, the University of Kerala, in the state of Kerala on the country's southern tip.

He's lending a hand to the students who need it most »

Statistics show that minority students are among those most likely to struggle with math, science and engineering classes. Jacob Varkey, through the Alliance for Minority Participation program (itself a National Science Foundation-funded initiative), is helping dozens of these traditionally under represented students succeed.

His favorite microorganism is definitely the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans »

Much in the way that Gregor Mendel used peas in some of history's earliest genetic experiments, Jacob uses the C. elegans nematode to convey the wonders of the microscopic world to his students.

Jacob's commitment to education has grabbed the attention of internationally renowned groups »

Eminent scientific groups like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) reward schools based on their academic achievements. Thanks to Jacob, it's no wonder that HSU has received funding from the HHMI five times in a row. In fact, students who participate in Jacob's programs routinely go on to the country's top medical schools. "I think the reason we're so successful is the kinds of students we attract here. For the most part they're very service oriented, and that's a big plus. Community service is why I became a teacher," Jacob says.

Jacob Varkey
Professor of Biology