The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation selects Scholars who are “among the best and brightest minds in STEM who show initiative, creativity, and excellence in their chosen field.” The University of Arizona’s Eric Lu is one of 56 scholars selected from 41 institutions for the prestigious STEM award.
Lu is an Honors student double majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology with minors in Mathematics, Music, and Spanish. Interdisciplinarity allows him greater flexibility and depth in his studies, research, extracurriculars, and future goals. “Eric’s success comes in a large part from his talent and hard work, but he has also benefited a lot from the broad training he has received while at Arizona. This broad training has allowed him to pick up new ideas and techniques very quickly and apply them in new ways, and will certainly help him succeed as he moves on in his career,” remarked Dr. Andrew Capaldi, the principal investigator of the lab where Eric researches.
Eric has worked in Dr. Capaldi’s lab for three years, creating an independent project to study the Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (TORC1), the master regulator of cellular growth and metabolism in eukaryotes.
Dr. Capaldi underscored his contributions and the significance of his research. “Eric is a superstar student, and a very important member of our lab. He has already discovered three novel TORC1 regulators, and has clues to the function of several other TORC1 binding proteins. It is incredibly exciting work since we know that misregulation of TORC1 is important in cancer, obesity and diabetes, epilepsy, clinical depression, and other many other diseases and disorders.”
Wonder drives his interdisciplinary pursuits through challenging himself and testing his limitations. For Eric, “wonder speaks to the limitless possibilities that are possible through the combination of spirit and mind. It puts things into perspective and is at once incredibly humbling and extremely motivating.”
After graduation, Eric plans to pursue a dual M.D./Ph.D. in order to work at the direct interface between medicine and science. He’s interested in studying the molecular mechanisms responsible for driving complex diseases such as cancer.
In reflecting on his research and the Astronaut Scholarship, Eric offered gratitude to the community who supports him. “I’d like to thank the Honors College, especially to wonderful people at the ONCS, for their unending patience and help. I’d also like to thank the mentors who have shaped my path, especially Dr. Capaldi, for his unwavering guidance and wisdom. And lastly, I’d like to thank my friends and family, for their unending support.”
If you would like more information on applying to the Astronaut Scholarship or other Nationally Competitive Scholarships, please contact the Arizona Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships at firstname.lastname@example.org.