Dog feces and parasites might sound like an odd field of study. But for Lamar University junior Michael Zarzosa, this research proposal earned him a full academic scholarship for one year and up to $10,000 to finance his work.

"It's an exciting project. I think it could have impact," Zarzosa said after the announcement by Lamar President James M. Simmons during a ceremony Monday.
Zarzosa, 32, is the second recipient of the David J. Beck Fellowship at Lamar. The undergraduate award includes a full academic scholarship for one year and up to $10,000 in research funding. It is the result of a $1 million gift from Lamar alumnus and Houston attorney David Beck.

Zarzosa plans to spend next summer in Ambergris Caye, Belize, to survey parasites common to domestic dogs and study the probability of transfer to humans.
In the United States, health regulations and preventive care of animals minimize the presence of parasites and their transfer to humans. However, this problem is much more common in third-world countries, Zarzosa said Monday.

In conducting his research, Zarzosa will be able to learn what could happen when people from more developed countries meet with third-world society.

"The most exciting thing is the ability to spearhead my own project, something that an undergraduate doesn't (often) get to do" Zarzosa said of this work.