James F. Jakobsen Award Winner Spotlights, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Conference Winners!

At the 13th Annual James F. Jakobsen Conference, the following University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Students won awards for their graduate work. Please browse their profiles and get to know winners a little better.

Zachary Roper

Zachary Roper
Clear Lake
Home State: 
Home Country: 
United States of America
What are some of your interests outside of school?: 
I enjoy playing the guitar and ukulele, watching movies (I'm a cinephile), attending beer festivals and wineries, traveling, photography, biking, reading about law and civil liberties, and glassblowing.
What is your favorite Iowa City/Coralville Restaurant?: 
Panera Bread for comfort food, Chef's Table for fine dining, and Thai Flavors for asian.
Are there any challenges you have faced as a graduate student at Iowa?: 
I've experienced no significant challenges that are specific to the University of Iowa. A difficult challenge in graduate school in general is striking a balance amongst teaching classes, taking classes, mentoring, performing research, disseminating research, and reviewing the research of others. This challenge, however, is graduate school's biggest allure -- it is self-directed and no single day is the same as another.
Previous Degrees Earned
Previous Degree [1]: 
B. S.
Degree [1] Area of Study: 
Degree [1] Institution Name: 
Iowa State University
What degree are you currently seeking?: 
Ph. D.
Area of Specialty: 
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
Brief thesis project description: 
I study the cognitive neuroscience of visual attention. There are many factors that contribute to how stimuli projected onto the retina come to influence behavior. I study those influences in normal populations, patients, and pigeons.
Who is your Thesis Advisor?: 
Shaun Vecera
Why did you decide to go to graduate school?: 
I never want to stop learning, and I saw graduate school as a means to continue growing intellectually. I knew that if I took any route other than graduate school, then I would most likely be insufficiently stimulated to perform at my maximum.
Why did you choose The University of Iowa for your graduate studies?: 
For vision science, the University of Iowa is one of the best. The faculty are experienced but young enough to still be on top of the latest literature. Iowa City provides a wealth of opportunities just like any larger city, but maintains the small town atmosphere of safety and congeniality.
What are your long term goals beyond your graduate degree at Iowa?: 
I plan to pursue a post-doctoral position in research to broaden my experience. Ultimately, I plan to hold a faculty position at a research university.
How has your experience at Iowa allowed you to achieve your goals?: 
Now in my third year at Iowa, I have made a great start on my research career. I have several manuscripts submitted and in preparation and have presented at many national, regional, and local conferences. My time at Iowa has fostered these accomplishments and has helped transform me into an attractive candidate for future research positions.
What year did you win an award at the Jakobsen Conference?: 
What do you enjoy most about the Conference?: 
I was greatly impressed with the professionalism of the Jakobsen Conference. From the printed programs, the hors d'oeuvres and the ceremony, the Jakobsen Conference truly is a microcosm of larger scale conferences. I was proud to present my research at the Jakobsen Conference.