Student Star: Jack Folwell

FSU Presidential scholar aims to bridge the gap between science and policymaking 

Name: Jack Folwell
Major: Physics and Political Science
Graduation: Spring 2025
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL 
Colleges: College of Arts & Sciences, College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

“The support provided by FSU has been transformational in allowing me to become someone who not only possesses new and innovative knowledge but also a more thoughtful, genuine and sophisticated person. ”

Fast Facts

  1. Fun Fact: I have no middle name. 
  2. Favorite spot on campus: Nobel Laureate Walk 
  3. Pastimes: Playing the New York Times Connections and Wordle 
  4. Best restaurant in Tallahassee: VeneBites 
  5. Favorite FSU memory: Attending my first football game 

When Jack Folwell considered majors at Florida State University, he knew his favorite classes were in physics and American politics.

As a double major in physics and political science, he combined his passions through campus service and research.

For his Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project, Folwell pursued “Information Literacy Skills and Beliefs,” researching how people process information on the internet and how to parse through true and false information.

Folwell also served as the chair of the Student Government Association Sweepings Committee, where he led a committee responsible for allocating over $500,000 to over 50 organizations across campus.

Folwell’s research endeavors in scientific misinformation and service commitments have led to his pursuit of a master’s degree in public policy.

What does your experience at Florida State mean to you?

It is so apparent to me now the importance of proper support in collegiate life. The experience of going to college is not simply about gaining the academic knowledge that we work toward on a surface-level but becoming the people we have been working toward becoming. We are ever-growing, and we will continue to learn throughout our lives, but I will likely never again be in a place where I am so wholly surrounded by people with such diversity of thought, where differences of opinions are not only permitted but encouraged. Without the academic and personal support I received at Florida State, I would not have had the opportunity to develop much of my own personal philosophy. I am indebted to the university for fostering my ability to grow and develop. 

What motivated you to double major in physics and political science? Are there any overlaps between the disciplines?

When I came to college, I knew that my favorite high school courses were about physics or American politics. I didn’t want to decide which of these to major in, so I decided to try both. Since then, I’ve found that science policy is a significant area of modern politics. We need individuals who can bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers, a gap that often exacerbates political tensions and leads to policies being antithetical to supporting science. To bring the desires of policymakers and scientists in line with each other, we need to first address the erosion of public trust in scientists. Only then can we ensure that a consistent, well-supported policy is put in place in these critical scientific areas. This niche area of policy, where the two subjects overlap, is where I thrive. 

What resources at FSU helped you balance your schoolwork and responsibilities outside of the classroom?

The single most valuable resource at Florida State is the faculty and staff. In speaking to my friends at other universities, it seems rare for a collegiate administration to be as open to hearing from students as they are here. The number of opportunities I found simply by sending an email asking for a meeting or for personal advice is extremely impressive, and I would certainly not be where I am today if the administration was not so open to working with students. Resources like the Career Center, Counseling & Psychological Services and the Center for Leadership & Service also ensured I maintained a balance between academics and extracurriculars.  

How has being a Presidential Scholar shaped your experience at Florida State?

During my first week in Tallahassee, my Presidential Scholars cohort was introduced to FSU’s campus life and leadership through a leadership summit. Many of my closest friends are those I met early through Presidential Scholars, and it is surreal to see them so pervasive throughout campus leadership. The specific influence the program has had on my experience is twofold: it allows me to attend college without worrying about how to pay for it. That minimization of stress cannot be understated. The second is that it gave me a platform to meet those who had a substantive impact on my collegiate journey earlier than I otherwise would have.