Convocation 2014 Student Highlight: Mark Spear

As course instruction comes to an end and convocation nears, we want to take this week to highlight students from the 2014 graduating class in the College of Science. Congratulations to the entire class of 2014!  View full convocation details.

convocation-mark-spearMark Spear
Biosciences, PhD

Mark Spear was born to be a researcher. As a child, this Virginia native studied geology, astrology, ecology, genetics, and any other field he could find. “It wasn’t until I got to college that I focused on biology and, later, microbiology,” says Spear. “Honestly, I thought it was really interesting.”

After graduating summa cum laude from the College of Science (COS) with a bachelor of science degree in biology, Spear immediately began doctoral studies in bioscience to continue his passion for scientific research. “I want to do research, whatever kind of research, as a career. The Internet — the databases and research articles — allows us so many research possibilities, so we have all the tools we need to develop, improve, and implement our ideas.”

“I want to do research, whatever kind of research, as a career.”

Spear’s first foray into molecular research, which he describes as “more of a side project,” involved adapting current technology to detect and kill HIV- infected cells. Currently, he’s working with Yuntao Wu, longtime COS professor and fellow researcher to continue investigating the deadly epidemic. “We’ve discovered a cellular factor that HIV seems to need to infect and replicate,” he explains.

When asked what advice he has for fellow biology students, Spear says, “Read the books, study the material. Get a concept-driven understanding of biology, because with that, everything becomes much easier.”

Spear manages a visual impairment but does not allow it to interfere with his studies. His love of scientific research is obvious in every word he speaks, and it is clear that success is on his horizon.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mark Spear