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Hello, C-U: Jake Rayapati

Meet Jake Rayapati. He is from Monticello, Illinois and currently works as a sales associate at Champaign Surplus. But he’s only sticking around until the spring comes,then he’s off to either California or Florida. Why? To explore and work in the field he has been passionate about since a kid: wild life.

As a kid, Rayapati would visit the Decatur zoo with his mom every week. Instead of cartoons he watched National Geographic. His birthday parties were at the zoo. This kid loved wild life.

He came to the U of I to study molecular ecology. “My dad is a molecular biologist and my mom is an ecologist. I guess I got the best of both worlds” Rayapati says after warning me this is going to be a bad joke.

You might wonder what is his favorite animal. Well, he doesn’t have one. He loves too many favorites to pick one. But, one animal that is on his mind as of late is the lemur. Did you know that there is only 1,000 lemurs left on this planet? That’s less than some people’s Facebook friend list. And they all live on one island, the island of Madagascar, which he is going to visit this year to study this endangered animal.

He’s got other prospects as well. He interviewed at the Cincinnati zoo to work on their research team and also in Alaska as a wild life guide. This guy is going places for real.

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