Class. Tennis practice. Research. A glance at Arjun Watane’s calendar would show almost as many time commitments as there are hours in a day.
“I use Google Calendar a lot,” Watane joked. “I’m working a lot, and my classes are not easy, but really what it comes down to is managing my time really well.”
The rising junior is a computer science major minoring in bioengineering in the Burnett Medical Scholars program. He applied to a research program right out of high school and began working with Ph.D. students on an ADHD project shortly after.
He’s currently working on a project analyzing the body to quantify fat and separate it into different components. He’s also assisting with software that will scan the body and detect the organs.
As he rattles off the medical terminology, he pauses to let it sink in.
“Sometimes it’s really surreal,” Watane said. “Through research, I could maybe find one small cure, devise one program or find some correlation between something in the body and a disease that could help millions of people.”
The Orlando native has already received two grants toward his research, done three presentations and submitted two papers for publication.
He’s also seen success on the tennis courts. Last fall, he tallied four straight victories to claim the White Flight championship at the Bedford Cup.
Tennis may be what brought Watane on his official visit to UCF, but his decision to attend was sealed by what he saw on campus.
“I’ve played tennis my whole life and that was a big reason for choosing UCF,” Watane noted. “But when I came on my recruiting trip, it was the academics that made my decision. They had all of the opportunities for me and there’s a strong support structure here.”
Coordinator of Academic Advising Services Margaret Dann, who serves as the academic advisor for the men’s tennis team, works closely with Watane and has seen his growth over the last two years.
“I think he came in his freshman year and wanted to be involved in as many things as possible,” Dann said. “But now he’s really honed in on what he wants to focus on.”
The fact that he has narrowed down his interests does not necessarily mean that he has stopped adding to his already packed schedule.
“I always want to be doing something,” said Watane, who is currently on a service-learning trip with Knights Without Borders in Costa Rica. “If I’m with people, I want to be doing something, spending quality time with them, rather than just sitting in my room or wasting time. I really don’t like wasting time.”
This year won’t include any wasted time either. In addition to serving on the undergraduate research council, he is joining the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee this fall.
He has also embraced the role of the “UCF Piano Man,” which came about through an off-hand conversation between Watane and Dann.
“For the honors college, one of their requirements during the first year is that the students have to do volunteer service,” Dann said. “So he actually mentioned to me that he was playing the piano at the children’s hospital. Academic Services was looking for a student-athlete who played the piano and asked me if I knew of anyone.”
Dann volunteered Watane for the events and Watane found himself adding to his calendar.
“I was contacted by the athletic department in April to perform for them,” Watane recounted. “My first performance was at an athletic event — the Diamond Knights — and since then I’ve been invited to perform at a lot of other events. I have piano performances set up in August, September and October.”
He is undaunted by the tasks that he undertakes.
“When he’s involved in something, he gives it his all,” Dann said. “I don’t know how he has the time for it, but he fits it all in. He gets it all done; he gets good grades. He just does it.”