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Randall C. Shepard '71 (right), pictured here with fellow College of Science External Advisory & Development Council member Leslie Lenser '87 (left), routinely gives back to his alma mater and current Aggie students, from endowing scholarships in biology as well as physics and astronomy to guest-lecturing for classes and various student groups.

COLLEGE STATION --

In celebration of Student Research Week (March 23-27) at Texas A&M University, the College of Science will be taking five with five different people involved in various aspects and stages of research at Texas A&M and beyond. Today's segment features Randall C. Shepard '71, chief executive officer for Eye Health Services Inc., a 22-ophthalmologist practice featuring multiple offices on Boston's South Shore area extending from Quincy to Cape Cod.

Shepard received his bachelor's degree in zoology at Texas A&M in 1971 and originally intended to pursue a career in medicine until one of his Texas A&M professors, Dr. Howard Gravett, steered him toward research. After graduating from Texas A&M, Shepard spent 10 years in oncology research in the Houston area before heading to Baylor College of Medicine, where he specialized in medical administration and related educational activities. He has been at Eye Health Services Inc. since 2000 and had served in a similar capacity in Texas at Austin Retina Associates prior to that appointment.

During the past decade, Shepard has created two endowed scholarships within the College of Science to financially support current and future undergraduate students majoring in biology and physics. A past chair of the College of Science External Advisory & Development Council (EADC) and a member since 2007, he also serves as a guest-lecturer for the college-created Careers in Life Sciences course aimed at sophomore and junior students.

Yesterday, Shepard took five with Texas A&M Science to discuss a variety of topics, from why he chose medical research and a healthcare-related career, to why he now chooses to give back as a donor and by encouraging others following their own curiosity toward STEM-enabled futures.


What made you originally decide to pursue a degree in zoology, much less at Texas A&M University?
"Before entering college, I had a passion and curiosity for medicine and science. I wanted to pursue my degree at an institution that offered a favorable professor-to-student ratio where interaction was encouraged. Texas A&M University presented that favorable ratio and, therefore, was a perfect fit for giving me the background and education to pursue my curiosity. Dr. Howard Gravett was my advisor at that time and helped direct my science curiosity into the research field. For that advice, I will be forever grateful."

As someone who spent a decade in oncology research in the Houston area before specializing in medical administration, why do you feel such fundamental and applied research efforts are important?
"Since my college graduation in 1971 to my current position as a CEO, my curiosity in science and medicine has expanded across the spectrum. The two efforts, fundamental and applied research, diversify our knowledge set and allow us to apply the findings over vast roles in medicine. Throughout my years in oncology research, I learned how to use research protocol fundamentals in the lab, which in turn translated directly to the application of those fundamentals to individual patients from an administrative level later in my career."

What do you consider your biggest career accomplishment(s)?
"Accomplishments come in various forms. Being challenged early on in my career to find answers to unsolved questions in oncology research became a self-motivator to always strive to expand and seek knowledge, no matter the occupation. Taking to belief that being challenged creates curiosity and strong leadership, I have always enjoyed mentoring younger generations and, in turn, challenging them while hopefully transferring some knowledge along the way. With time comes experience and knowledge, and whether it is in business or science, trying to reach the summit of my career while living to the fullest each day has become a mantra that I have always felt strongly about."

In addition to funding endowed scholarships, you've chaired the College of Science External Advisory & Development Council and served as a guest-lecturer for the college's Careers in Life Sciences course. Why is investing in the future of Texas A&M and its students through philanthropy and personal involvement such a worthy cause in your book?
"Investing in the students of today yields a strong return for the leaders of tomorrow. The decision to give back to Texas A&M and interacting with the students has been both stimulating and vastly rewarding."

Why do you think students should get involved in research?
"Research is the gateway to knowledge. Understanding fundamentals and using that knowledge to discover new applications is one of the most influential things a person can do."

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Now in its 18th year, Student Research Week is a friendly competition that highlights both undergraduate and graduate research at Texas A&M, one of the country's top research universities. The weeklong celebration fosters an environment for students, faculty and administrators to learn about student research at Texas A&M and also gives students an opportunity to win numerous awards and cash prizes. To learn more about the week's schedule and specific events, go to http://srw.tamu.edu/.

For more information on philanthropic support for research activities in the College of Science, go to
http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/
.

-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Randy Shepard '71

  • Shepard (center), honored by College of Science Development Officer Michael Morelius (left) and Dean Joe Newton (right) at the 2014 Spring Recognition and Awards Dinner for his gift to establish the Randall C. Shepard '71 Endowed Scholarship in Astrophysics to benefit undergraduate physics students, with preference given to juniors or seniors seeking minors in astronomy. (Credit: Michael Kellett.)

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