Graduates pursue lifelong interests

by Charles Ker
Staff writer

Aneil Agrawal's interest in science began with an early infatuation with frogs.

As a six-year-old Richmond resident, he pulled his family out of a restaurant that was serving bullfrogs. Soon after that incident, the young ecologist transplanted hundreds of frogs into a ditch he dug in his parents' backyard. Their habitat was being threatened by development.

"We were serenaded to sleep at night by a loud chorus of frogs," says Agrawal's father, Krishna. "Aneil was a committed biologist at an early age."

Agrawal follows in the footsteps of his father, mother and older brother when he graduates from UBC this spring. He will be the first, along with more than 5,000 other graduates, to receive his degree in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts May 25-30.

Agrawal is also among the first group of science graduates who started their UBC experience in the innovative Science One Program.

Launched in September 1993, Science One is an alternative to the traditional first-year curriculum. The multi-disciplinary program integrates scientific ideas and principles common to biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics instead of presenting each discipline independently.

During his four years at UBC, Agrawal has studied learning patterns of rufous hummingbirds and, most recently, the body armour of stickleback fish in the laboratory of Prof. Dolph Schluter. Schluter is a leading evolutionary ecologist who has combined field work on finches and stickleback fish with theories that have altered the way biologists study natural selection.

"My experience in Science One and the chance to work with Prof. Schluter has provided the perfect preparation for the work I'd like to get into," says Agrawal.

Captain of his intramural team, Agrawal is a self-professed basketball fanatic.

He turned down an offer from Harvard and will attend Indiana University in July -- a basketball hotbed and home of the legendary Hoosiers. However, it is the chance to pursue his childhood infatuation which lured him to Indiana where he will begin a PhD in evolutionary biology.

His subject of study? -- the arrow-poison frog of Costa Rica.

This year's Congregation celebrations include 23 separate ceremonies spanning six days from Sunday, May 25 to Friday, May 30. Ceremonies on Sunday, May 25 will be at 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The remainder of the ceremonies take place at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Ten honorary degrees will also be conferred.

See Pace setters: 1996-97 graduates in profile