I had my hands full with a million different things. Was everyone safe? Did we lock the car? The left side of this path is pretty steep should we take the other trail? and BLAM you appeared in front of me Austin. A huge grin was slapped across your face and you urged me and the rest of the group to follow you through a waterfall and into a gorgeous canyon we wouldn't have found without you. We had a grand time didnt we? snakes, slippery rocks and all. You were one of the few that soldiered with me through the knee deep mud. You were not afraid to get dirty or tired and you were certainly never interested in giving up. When others said the path was too steep you were right next to me sliding down it. When your shoe came off, embedded deep within the wet sopping mud, you took off you other shoe, collected the two and kept going. The real kicker though was the fact that you never stopped smiling and were a friend to everyone on the trip. You were one of those few people in this world that can just be a really good guy. Someone you never feel uncomfortable talking to, someone who you never had to worry about. You were just you. Austin Hudson-LaPore. Big smile, science t-shirt, sweet, smart, adventurous. Hope you are doing well and going on lots of adventures right now. We miss you Austin.
Austin was a brilliant student in my Systems Biology class. We met on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays in the small north conference room on the tenth floor of the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery. Our views out the glass walls to the north and east were always spectacular: the city of Chicago, shiny bright in the sun and Lake Michigan ever changing in its colorful hues. There were striking varieties of dark blue, grey, and green colorations, dark shading highlights, and structural textures. Associated with these physical vagaries about our surroundings were weather fluctuations we liked to monitor as we talked about science. Sometimes outside it was very still. Other times, the vistas were stormy, especially over the Lake. I think Austin enjoyed these views. I know I did. They stimulated us to think deeper about the mechanisms of life. And indeed they helped us form a more perfect learning community as a result. We enjoyed each other’s company and engaged in productive discussions about the lectures we heard and the papers we read. There was encouragement to foster insights about the subtleties of biology and how to model its complexities. Austin was always eager to participate in these considerations. He will be sorely missed. Austin was thoughtful, affable, and a pleasure to get to know. My condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues near and far.
I was Austin's teacher this spring as part of a systems biology course that he was taking at University of Chicago. Austin was delightful to have as a student - sweet, inquisitive, intelligent, and thoughtful. He confessed to being a player of a large online game called Foldit, which works towards understanding one of the hardest unsolved problems in molecular biology - how protein polymers fold into three-dimensional shapes. I assume then that Austin is one of the 57,000 co-authors in a 2010 article in Nature that reported on the game. Austin was a memorable person, and I am very sorry for his loss.
This is most unfortunate and upsetting news. Despite the abbreviated nature of the course, I do remember interacting with Austin and remember him being a truly bright, positive, and enthusiastic student. I cannot imagine what Austin's friends and family must be going through. Please convey my deepest sympathy to those attending the memorial tomorrow evening, as I might not be able to attend. My deepest condolences.
I would like to express what a smart, motivated, and kind young man he was, and that his absence is a terrible loss. And of course our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
I taught a week's worth of lectures of a Systems Biology course that Austin was taking this Spring. Although this gave me relatively few chances to interact with him, he made a huge impression on me. The class size was very small, and Austin seemed to act as a kind of glue during the discussions: when one person was confused, he often seemed to understand both the material itself and where the confusion was coming from. Austin would often produce an insightful comment at these points that would move the class forward. He was a brilliant student with a real enthusiasm for learning who will be missed.
I didn't know Austin well, but he was in all the chemistry classes I've taken at UChicago. I do know that he's brilliant. And always so nice and polite. And interested and happy and positive. His death is so wrong and unfair. He is so deserving of life and would have gone on to do incredible things. He is missed and will continue to be for a very, very long time. Though I did not know Austin well, he made an impression on me as he did on so many who encountered him. I send my sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
I'd like to reconstruct one teacher's view of Austin's 7th grade year, 2004 thru 2005, But before he got together with us, his new Pod and teachers, we the teachers already knew Austin. How could you miss him? We knew him because he was the 6th grade kid who scampered around the West Campus by himself or with others as if always on some imaginary adventure.Whether the first or last day of school, when you saw him and he saw you, he always shared his smile. And then we smiled. It felt great to be around him. Beginning in August 2004, we learned of his clear-headed intentions, his sharp mind, his commitment to each assignment, his willingness and abiltiy to work well with fellow students. The attention he gave us and his peers were signs of commitment to us, himself, others, and a belief in the entire school environment. I began to sense that his life was not about achievements and outdoing others, although he was competitive and usually was well ahead of most, but more about touchstones. I mean living for life itself. Austin was smart enough to absorb and take whatever we were doing to a higher personal level. I can't entirely speak for others, but I can vouch for what I heard and what he learned. He was a student in a team-based program and we knew our kids. I know what I saw, what I heard, and in all cases I was mesmerized by his initiative and commitment to learning. Other teachers were, too. His peers as well. He was developing a quiet following and unbeknownst to him or us, a legendary presence. I would never have said that almost a decade ago, but I think the process was underway. My sense is that legendary people don't think about becoming that special person to be put on a pedestal, and certainly Austin was the humble servant of learning. Life came to him as he asserted himself in it and expressed it. He was and is life. Austin was the kid with the big smile, the innocent curiosity, the engager, the optimist, a bright student who was as well suited for indoor work as outdoor work, or play. Austin loved the capture the flag "Turkish Game" as much as he loved digging into challenging research projects. He never missed a beat. My view was that Austin devoured our offerings and extended himself in each and every activity. He never flinched from challenges, but rather embraced every experience as a valuable opportunity rather than an ongoing series of tasks and problems. He was always connecting the dots: academic, experiential, personal, interpersonal, nature... all encompassing. The rhythm of his heart beats on for everyone who knew him, whom he touched, and for what he represented. Life itself.
Hyde Park loves Austin and his family.
I am a Hyde Parker and the mother of a 24 year old U of C graduate.
I am also one of the huggers on the Tuesday before Austin was found - not only was I in tears when I saw Gregg in the Kimbark Plaza parking lot but so was the woman from the local news station.
The email we received about Austin being missing struck a chord with me - I have a bright son who is curious - we love hiking in Colorado and my son and husband usually go on one hike that I am too chicken to go on - I usually am on pins and needles waiting for them to get home safely.
The love shown by this family during their search and the wonderful pictures makes us all want to hold our loved ones closely.
When I saw the Thank You Hyde Park posters, I was almost in tears at first but these last few days, they have filled me with joy. I don't believe in a higher power but the love of this family is the highest power.
Rest in peace Austin, Hyde Park loves you and your family.
It has been three weeks today that Austin has been gone and it feels raw and unjust. I know rational intelligent thoughts in my head, but my heart does not know the language of reason.
My heart cries because I too am a mom and have had all the hopes and dreams for my children. I have also had dreams for Austin.
I think that anyone who knew Austin had dreams for Austin. I stood in awe and wonder at his passion for knowledge and his hunger for more. His appetite for science was coupled with an extraordinary ability to digest and transform information. As I would listen to Austin my mind would wonder if I was sitting next to the person who would change humanity in some great way. Austin, I think that you are changing humanity in some great way. I just did not think that it would come in this package.
Today I hug my kids more at night. I look into their eyes when they are talking and I turn my face towards then. I feel their soft faces and know that it is a gift to be a mother and that it may not last forever. I look at the sky, rain, and clouds with more wonder. My heart has become more tender each day. I find myself wanting to be more intentional with my life and with those I love.
I have watched a family search for their missing son. I saw love demonstrated in their perseverance and their ability to noticed others who extended a hand to help or arms to cry on. I watched a community respond to the pain and suffering of others.
I am now the student and you have been the teacher. May I never forget all that you have taught me.
With much love to our family,
Collecting stories so that everyone can see who Austin Hudson-Lapore was to each of us.