Inaugural recipient of Harl Opportunity Scholarship aspires to become biomedical researcher

Elliana Fahey
Elliana Fahey

AMES, Iowa – The broad range of research opportunities available to undergraduate students at Iowa State University is what drew Elliana Fahey to Ames.

Fahey, a freshman in genetics from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, was selected earlier this year as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Neil E. Harl Opportunity Scholarship offered to incoming Iowa State University freshmen.

The scholarship fully covers the equivalent of in-state tuition, as well as the cost of housing and dining, for four years for students who wish to attend Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It is geared toward students who show promise of excelling academically at Iowa State but may not have the financial means to attend the university.

“This will tremendously reduce the stress for me and my family while I focus on figuring out how to maneuver through my adventure at Iowa State,” Fahey said. “My family will not have to worry about how to afford my college experience.”

Seeing the impacts genetic diseases have had on members of her family, Fahey hopes to pursue a career in biomedical research. Her dream is to work in a lab focused on finding treatments and cures for such health ailments.

“I cannot thank the donors enough for this amazing opportunity. It has opened so many windows for me and made opportunities available that I might not have otherwise had,” Fahey said. “I am excited to see where my journey at Iowa State takes me.”

About Dr. Neil E. Harl

The Dr. Neil E. Harl Opportunity Scholarship was made possible by a gift commitment of $2 million provided by Dr. Harl’s family. Additional contributions toward the scholarship fund have also come from friends, colleagues and former students of Iowa State.

Dr. Harl was able to attend Iowa State (called Iowa State College at the time) thanks to a scholarship he received. He graduated from the university in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and life sciences education. He went on to law school at the University of Iowa College of Law, then returned to Iowa State to pursue a doctoral degree in economics, which he obtained in 1965.

Following the completion of his doctoral degree, Dr. Harl joined Iowa State’s faculty as an associate professor, advancing to the rank of full professor. He later was named the Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor, becoming the youngest Iowa State faculty member to earn this honor.

Outside of Iowa State, Dr. Harl was known for his efforts to advocate for farmers, especially during the farm crisis of the 1980s. As farmers were facing bankruptcy, Harl pushed for taxation reform and proposed a plan to slow bankruptcies.

During his professional career, Dr. Harl was involved in several organizations, including the American Agricultural Law Association, of which he was the founding president, and the American Agricultural Economics Association. Additionally, he was the founder of the Center for International Agricultural Finance, through which he provided economic and legal advice to foreign countries transitioning to a market economy.

He and his wife, Darlene, provided funds to create the Neil and Darlene Harl Commons in the lower level of Curtiss Hall on Iowa State’s campus. The area serves as a gathering place where students can meet and study.

Following Dr. Harl’s passing in November 2021, his family made its charitable gift for the Dr. Neil E. Harl Opportunity Scholarship through the Iowa State University Foundation, which is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State.

Those wishing to contribute to the scholarship may do so by visiting the Foundation’s website, or sending contributions to the Iowa State University Foundation, 310 Curtiss Hall, 513 Farm House Lane, Ames, Iowa, 50011, noting fund No. 2706206.