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Hang Lu on Being a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineer

Hang Lu (left), an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, and graduate student Alison Paul test microfluidic devices they've developed to stimulate and break open T-cells to dynamically analyze their properties. By measuring molecules downstream from the T-cells in a high-throughput manner, they can build mathematical models to assess the quality of the T-cell population before infusing the cells into the patient. That could potentially improve the therapeutic outcome of a new cancer therapy called adoptive transfer of T-cells. (Image credit: Georgia Tech photo by Gary Meek)

Editor's Note: ScienceLives is an occasional series that puts scientists under the microscope to find out what makes them tick. The series is a cooperation between the National Science Foundation and LiveScience.

Name: Hang Lu Age: 31 Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Field of Study: Chemical and biomolecular engineering

What inspired you to choose this field of study? The nervous system is both beautiful and complex. My lab builds engineering tools to try to solve some of the mysteries of the nervous system.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Many of my mentors in the past told me to follow the line of inquiry that most interests me – even if others tell me not to.

What was your first scientific experiment as a child? Changing the color of flower petals with vinegar.

What is your favorite thing about being a scientist or researcher? Learning new things all the time is my favorite thing in research.

What is the most important characteristic a scientist must demonstrate in order to be an effective scientist? Curiosity – the desire to find out how things work.

What are the societal benefits of your research? My research helps bioscientists figure out how a cell, a tissue, an organ, or an organism works, and hopefully improve the quality of life as a result.

Who has had the most influence on your thinking as a researcher? My Ph.D. and postdoctoral mentors.

What about your field or being a scientist do you think would surprise people the most? The fact that we spend lots of time talking to other scientists, reading their papers, and not working in the basement by ourselves.

If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office or lab, what would it be? My laptop!

What music do you play most often in your lab or car? Whatever is on NPR.

This researcher is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering.