Q&A with Baylor University Fulbright Recipient Taylor Kohn

May 3, 2013
Taylor Kohn

Taylor Kohn, a senior University Scholar from Wichita, Kan., has been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and will pursue his master of philosophy degree in instrumentation at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. (Matthew Minard/Baylor Marketing & Communications)

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WACO, Texas (May 3, 2013) - Taylor Kohn, a senior University Scholar from Wichita, Kan., is one of four Baylor students and recent graduates who have been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. As a Fulbright recipient, Kohn will pursue his master of philosophy degree in instrumentation at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Baylor Media Communications conducted a Q&A with each of Baylor's most recent Fulbright recipients, including Kohn:

Baylor Media Communications: How did you find out that you had received a Fulbright and what was your reaction?

Taylor Kohn: I received an email from the Fulbright Commission saying that I had received the scholarship. I actually had received the email while I was asleep and when I woke up I read the email. I was still rather groggy, but when I realized what it was, I called my girlfriend and my parents.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to apply for the Fulbright and why did you choose the UK?
Taylor Kohn: I decided to apply for the Fulbright because I thought the opportunity to study in England would be a great opportunity to learn about a different country and cultures. But more importantly, the program I applied to is so unique that this type of research is only occurring at four or five places in the world, so it gave me an incredible opportunity to study an emerging and exciting field.

Baylor Media Communications: What will you study there?
Taylor Kohn: I will be studying at the University of Manchester pursuing a masters of philosophy in instrumentation. I would be using secondary mass spectrometry to identify early signs of neurodegenerative diseases - specifically Alzheimer's disease. This would be a great start for my career as I hope to research neurodegenerative diseases later on after I complete medical school.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to come to Baylor for your undergraduate study?
Taylor Kohn: I was accepted to the Baylor2 Medical Track [a combined eight-year baccalaureate/MD program for high-achieving students] so that was a great reason to come to Baylor but beyond that, I was really drawn in by the science building - it was unlike anything that I had seen on my college visits and it really awed me. Additionally I was struck by how nice the faculty and staff were. I felt very honored that they would talk to me, even though I was just a high schooler visiting. Finally, I really liked the unique approach of the Honors College and University Scholars. I was very excited to combine science with the humanities.

Baylor Media Communications:What are your plans after Baylor and the Fulbright?
Taylor Kohn: I will be attending Baylor College of Medicine.

Baylor Media Communications: Who are some of the Baylor faculty members who helped you in your major?
Taylor Kohn: Dr. William Hillis has been a huge influence as a mentor. He took me on as a freshman and really put a lot of faith in me and encouraged me to pursue excellence. Dean Elizabeth Vardaman has been absolutely wonderful. She challenges me to be a better student and is a constant friend and mentor to me. I also admire her enthusiasm that she has for working with undergraduates and has made working with her an absolute honor. Dr. Rich Sanker has also been a great supporter and has helped me get some of my most significant opportunities. Dr. David Pennington has also been one of my greatest supporters and has mentored me and given me great advice. Dr. Bryan Shaw had also been a wonderful mentor.

William D. Hillis, M.D., Cornelia Marschall Smith Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology:
Taylor was a born researcher from his first day in science. He always knows how to attack a research problem and then to home in on the solution. I am certain he will be a huge success at the University of Manchester. There has never been, to my knowledge, a more worthy candidate who merited being a Fulbright Scholar than Taylor. I trust he is about to enter the highest adventure of his lifetime!

Rich Sanker, Ph.D., director of prehealth science studies: Taylor is one of my favorite premedical students and I am willing to state he is the very best undergraduate student researcher that I have known in my entire career in higher education. Ever since I met Taylor, he has been deliberate in his pursuit to attain research experiences. Taylor has pushed the boundaries of his intellectual abilities every semester through research, coursework and extracurricular activities. Taylor impresses everyone with whom he works because of his earnest desire to master the subject material and his intent to use the acquired knowledge in the future. He is a natural and talented leader who is committed to support his peers and the community around him. Taylor was also instrumental in the development of our new research-focused undergraduate student organization known as BURST (Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology). Consequently, Taylor is one of our most valued student leaders in the premedical programs. He has improved the overall quality of our student community and has challenged his peers to think more critically about their own scholarly research and professional intentions. He is a great example for his peers on how to get the most from their undergraduate career. Taylor is a passionate and talented gentleman, and it has been the University's good fortune to have him as member of our undergraduate student community.

Bryan F. Shaw, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry: Taylor's winning of a Fulbright sums him up better than anything I could ever say. It is good to see awards like this given to people like Taylor. I'm so happy for him, and I am especially happy for his mom and dad, who I've had the pleasure of meeting -- all wonderful people from Kansas. His mom told me that she home-schooled him in his early years. Looks like she did a great job! Of course, we at Baylor can take some credit too!

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.