Michael Perez

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences; Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry

College/School: School of Environment, Arts and Society; College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Michael Perez began college at 16 in the Academy for Advanced Academics, a dual-enrollment program allowing high school students to take high school and college courses at FIU.

While pursuing bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and chemistry, Michael studied under Professor Jamie Theobald and developed a research technique to study how mosquitoes sense human odors while in flight. This work could help scientists develop more effective repellents in safeguarding against disease transmission, including Zika and dengue fever.

On campus, Michael, who is in the Honors College, served as vice president of the student pre-med club STITCH — Students Taking Initiative Through Collaboration Honors. He was a leader in their first medical brigade to the Dominican Republic, where they delivered more than 500 pounds of medical supplies. He taught organic chemistry lab and was a resident assistant in the PantherLIFE program for students with intellectual disabilities. Michael works with President Emeritus Modesto A. Maidique on the Chapmanville Leadership Development Program, a program aimed at improving the leadership skills of Miami-Dade County government’s senior leaders.

In the community, Michael worked alongside Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Professor Onelia Lage to assess the oral health of families through NeighborhoodHELP, a program where students track the health of families in their homes. He also helped create NeighborhoodHELP Service Corps., a volunteer program to improve community health through research and service.

Now 20, Michael will begin medical school this fall at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He wants to be a neurosurgeon involved in clinical research, education and urban health initiatives.

By Evelyn Perez