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Sunday, December 16, 2018

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Eric Gonzalez (Photo: Lauren Radack) Eric Gonzalez (Photo: Lauren Radack)

Set Up for Success: Eric Gonzalez

Meet SDSU students and recent graduates whose impressive resumes forecast bright futures.
By Michael Price

“My high school spirit leader was the Aztec, too, so I’ve literally been an Aztec for life.”

This article is one of five student profiles published in the summer 2017 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University.

As a voracious consumer of science fiction, Eric Gonzalez knows how scientists tend to be portrayed on the big screen: geeky glasses, lab coats and few interpersonal skills. As a recent biochemistry graduate with research experience and accolades under his belt and a science career in his future, though, he knows there’s so much more to being a scientist.

“Doing research as an undergraduate helps you to understand how science actually works versus how it’s portrayed in the movies,” Gonzalez said. “I learned early on what it means to be a career scientist.”

Summer 2017 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University
Summer 2017 Cover of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University
His career kicked off in Professor Tom Huxford’s chemistry lab where Gonzalez entered the graduate school–focused Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, which emphasizes mentoring and research experience for underrepresented minorities. He then joined the undergraduate research lab of biochemist Christal Sohl. There, with the help of a MARC-sponsored research stipend and tuition support, he investigated the structure and chemical reactivity of a protein called IDH1 (pictured behind Gonzalez), a mutated version of which is found in about 70 percent of brain cancers. “Learning the way these mutations work will hopefully lead to new treatments,” Gonzalez said.

This fall, he’ll begin a Ph.D. program at the University of California, San Francisco, where he plans to focus on the intersection of biochemistry and infectious disease while mentoring the next generation of scientists. “Having benefitted from mentoring myself, I want to give back,” Gonzalez said.

Other profiles in this series

Chimezie Ebiriekwe

Hedaya Rizeq

Courtney Dickson