Who: Luhua Zhang
Year Graduated: 2003
Where are you now?
I’m currently back in the Bay Area, getting my PhD in Immunology at Stanford.
What do you enjoy?
In my professional life, I’ve come to really love teaching. My favorite thing in graduate school so far has been teaching undergraduates about the immune system, and I also help out with an after school science program. To relax, I’ve come to value really simple things like reading the news or a good book with a cup of tea, or going out with a close group of friends.
What did you do in high school?
I was most heavily involved in Student Government (I was senior class president) and the Foster City Youth Advisory Committee (I was the chair). I also spent a lot of time doing the Biotech Career Pathway (shout out to Ms. D and Mr. Ikeda!) which really helped get me started in biological research. Just as importantly, I spent a lot of time goofing around with my friends. Weekends were spent at local rock shows or late night In-N-Out/Krispy Kreme runs. I miss that metabolism!
What are you doing now?
As part of getting my PhD, I’m studying natural killer cells, which are one of the white blood cells which keep us all healthy. I’m trying to figure out how certain chemicals in our environment and food affect these immune cells, and potentially enhance their activity against viruses and cancer. As an important aside, I’ve been able to get two SMHS students to help me on this project! Barbara Storch, who graduated last year in 2012, and Angela Lu, who is a senior and currently working with me. You guys are amazing!
What surprised you about life after high school?
For me, the biggest surprise is how open the possibilities are after high school. That actually scared me a lot. In high school, it was always very structured and clear what you had to do to accomplish your goal such as getting into college. Once in college though, I didn’t have a clear goal in mind and I became a little lost. After a while, I realized I had to figure out what I wanted from life, and create whatever goals I wanted to make that happen. I’m actually still figuring it out now, with no idea what my next step will be, and that’s OK =).
Words of Wisdom for current Bearcats?
Take the time to meet great people and maintain their friendship. I have been horrible at this, and I regret that. Awesome friends and mentors can help you both in your personal and professional lives, and get you through the inevitable rough patches.And to any future scientists out there, keep taking those English classes! Being a coherent writer is such an important skill that is often neglected in the sciences. I’m sorry to both Mr. Johnsons for not valuing English as much as I should have =P.
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