Victoria Honnell of Los Alamos is among the best and brightest from Class of 2018. Photo by Justin Fox Burks
By CHRIS MCCOY
Every year, the Flyer in Memphis devotes an issue to honoring the best and brightest Memphians under 30. This year, readers nominated more than 50 exceptional young people from all walks of life, including Victoria Honnell of Los Alamos.
Whittling the list down to 20 was a difficult — and inspiring — job. There is so much talent here. As always, 20<30 is about what these young people are doing, but it’s mostly about the future. These are some of the young leaders who will shape tomorrow’s Memphis, and we’re giving you a preview of what that city might look like. Short version: We’re in very good hands, indeed.
When Honnell came to Memphis as a Rhodes College freshman, she knew no one in Memphis.
“I have no family within 1,000 miles of the South,” said the native of New Mexico. “I wanted my own little adventure, to try something new.”
Honnell’s grandfather was a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where her father Kevin Honnell is a chemical engineer, and her mother Diana Honnell is a laboratory assistant.
“I was destined to be some kind of scientist, but I’m the first biologist in the family,” she said.
Honnell majored in neuroscience, and with her hard-science degree, she could have gone anywhere after undergrad, but she decided to stay.
“Memphis was my home; it was comfortable. I really enjoyed the neighborhood. And I liked seeing how Memphis has grown since I came here in 2011. I love this city,” she said.
Along with 11 others, Honnell was accepted into the inaugural class of St. Jude’s new Ph.D program, where she is studying to be a developmental neurobiologist.
“I know we’re the guinea pigs, but St. Jude is known for exceptional work, and I don’t think their Ph.D program is going to be any different,” Honnell said.
Honnell also trains as a long-distance runner, and recently competed in the St. Jude marathon. But science and research are her abiding passion. “Advancing cures for different diseases and improving human life. That’s my drive.”
Memphis Flyer 20<30: The Class of 2018 … 20 young people making a difference in Memphis including Victoria Honnell, second row center, of Los Alamos. Photo by Justin Fox Burks