20 Minutes with Dr. Fortune: A Faculty Spotlight

Dressed in all blue except for his colorful Ecuadorian belt. Dr. Fortune, a Biology professor at NJIT for three years, has wanted to pursue this career for as long as he can remember. His interest in biology stemmed from an early fascination with dinosaurs, which led to his curiosity about evolution. Fortune took the initiative, as a teenager in high school, to seek out professors at the University of Florida for advice on the research that he wanted to pursue. With that advice, he began experimenting with microorganisms at his high school, and from then on, he knew for a fact that biology was his calling.

He attended the University of Chicago where he received his Bachelor of Arts with Special Honors and his PhD in Organismal Biology and Anatomy. Unlike most, his Special Honors did not come from having a high GPA, but from being published as an undergraduate student, an accomplishment that few attain. Fortune entered UChicago with the goals of becoming a millionaire and getting married before he left. Neither of these things happened because he realized in his time there that money was not a driving factor for him. His fondest memories at university were working alongside his friends in the research lab. Sitting in his lab, Fortune became overjoyed when given the opportunity to talk about his current research, exclaiming, “You better believe I like doing research…I mean, look at all my toys!”, as he pointed to all of his lab equipment.

While Fortune definitely loves doing research, he shares that same passion for teaching as well. He believes that there is nothing more satisfying than being able to share the lightbulb moment that students have, calling it “a beautiful thing”. His care for his students extends further than just in the classroom. While in his lab, he heard something shatter, and his immediate response was to ask the student working in the back, “Oh no, you okay?”

When questioned about his biggest heroes, Fortune explained that he strongly admires both Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali. He proudly advocates for peace and appreciates both Gandhi’s and Ali’s efforts to making great changes through nonviolent means. As a scientist who understands how hard it is to do new things and make new discoveries, Fortune tries to apply his heroes’ beliefs to his own work. Despite knowing that there are easier paths to follow, Fortune is committed to doing things the right way. He leads his life with these principles and embeds them into the way he teaches at NJIT.

Do you have a favorite faculty member? Email sp943@njit.edu or apn6@njit.edu the name of the professor you would like to see interviewed by the Vector.

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