On Thursday Oct. 29, astronaut and scientist Dr. Larry DeLucas spoke to students about his experiences in space and in the scientific field at 3 p.m. in the W.R. Collier Auditorium.
DeLucas works as a biochemist to grow high density protein crystals, and to develop tech that eases the process. He co-invented and patented the nano crystallization machine and over 20 other products. Through Soluble Therapeutics, he works to address problems with proteins in the pharmaceutical and vaccination industries. He is a member of numerous research organizations and has published over 104 research articles.
DeLucas also acted as payload specialist for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1992. He helped the crew conduct material and fluid experiments and logged over 331 hours in space.
Doug Swartz, an assistant professor in the natural sciences who helped coordinate DeLucas’s visit, believes there are two major benefits from having students interact with high profile lecturers and well accomplished professionals like Dr. DeLucas.
“First, students can see how concepts they learn about in the classroom are applied to solve complex problems in the real world. In the case of Dr. DeLucas, he develops technologies and methods that improve how proteins are studied. In turn, this assists with the development of pharmaceutical drugs to treat diseases,” Swartz said.
“Second, students get a broader view and concrete examples of the opportunities that are available to them when they combine education with hard work. Dr. DeLucas began his career as a chemistry major and has ended up as an internationally renowned scientist, an astronaut, and an entrepreneur.”
During his lecture, DeLucas described his research with protein crystals, as well as his hopes for the future of the research and the past obstacles he has had to overcome.
For the latter half of his visit, he regaled students with the nuances of life in space: sleeping, showering, eating, and even going to the restroom. The images he brought of the moon, earth, and shuttle life supplemented his presentation, and his stories of space actively engaged the student audience.
DeLucas managed to balance information, education, and entertainment so that students walked out of the Collier with a valuable and memorable experience.