Austin - Just wanted to let you know that hearing about your scientific talents and great heart from your Mom inspires me to be a better, more involved mentor to the students and residents who come my way. I can only imagine what an amazing person she raised as she has inspired me so much in such a short time. We've had some great storms in ABQ lately, and knowing how much you loved crazy weather, as do I, they make me think of you even though we never met. - Kate
Last summer for Austin's birthday, a bunch of us planned a surprise party for him. We wanted it to be a real surprise so all of us told Austin that we were busy (poor guy) and couldn't hang out that night. On the day of his birthday, Aenea distracted Austin with an incredibly long grocery run while the rest of us stayed behind to set up. Admittedly, we were not the best organizers, so the whole thing was slightly haphazardly thrown together - Nora was sent out last minute to go find balloons and candles, lights were strung around the somewhat half-unpacked living room, paper hats were taped together on the spot, you get the idea. Once Aenea gave us the warning, we all stood giggling in a line holding up letters that spelled out HAPPY BIRTHDAY! When Austin walked in and saw us, his face split into the most amazing grin I've ever seen. He hugged each of us in turn and told us that it was the first surprise party anyone had ever pulled for him.
For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking of that wonderful smile and the party we threw. Aenea mentioned that Austin had a favorite smile for each of his friends - well, this morning I decided that that one is my favorite Austin smile. So spontaneous, so happy, so touched, so genuinely... surprised.
Miss you, Austin. Wish we could throw you a hundred thousand more surprises.
Sergio and I have known Laurie since we were first-year graduate students at UNM in 2004. Immediately, she became our mentor and guide, and I asked her later to be in my dissertation committee. Through the years of interacting with her, we occasionally heard stories about both her children while they were growing up, mostly funny things they did. I looked up to Laurie because she was an example of a great scientist, who clearly was also a great mom and had managed her career and her personal life. Then, in the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to meet and work with Austin in Dr. Karlett Parra’s lab, while I was a postdoc and he was a summer student. It was after his first year at U. of Chicago. The whole summer, I was impressed with Austin’s intellect, quick hands, and creativity in the lab. I loved his nerdy T-shirts, which inspired me to wear mine as well. While he was at the lab, we had long talks about his major and I strongly encouraged him to study biochemistry (although I thought he was going to pursue math or physics). A funny thing happened the day of the undergraduate student symposium at the end of the summer, that’s when I realized that he was Laurie’s son! She looked so proud of him that day, and they looked so much alike. The whole summer Austin never bragged about being his mother’s son. That was a humble quality about him. He gained his lab mates’ respect on his own merits as a brilliant “budding” scientist (he thought it was funny when I called him that because we worked with budding yeast). At the end of the summer I remember thinking that Austin will one day win a Nobel prize (no question in my mind).
We followed the news of his disappearance and then finally the sad ending to this brilliant young man’s life. The scientific community has lost the talent that would surely have solved some of humanities’ greatest problems. Laurie, we are so sorry for you and your family’s loss. You have been such a beacon of light in our lives, guiding us when we needed your help. We hope you and everyone who loved Austin will find comfort in the memories of such a wonderful human being, knowing that his time here was meaningful, and he touched our lives.
Our thoughts are with you,
Sergio and Leyma De Haro
I came to know Austin in Summer 2011 at the University of New Mexico. He was my labmate at the time. Austin was very caring, smart and eager to learn, asking questions about the various laboratory techniques. Austin was very passionate about his ﬁeld of study with a bright future ahead of himself. I still in shock and cannot believe that this tragedy happened. May peace and love bring closure and comfort to his family and friends. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.
I met Austin the summer that I joined the lab. I was surprised when I found out that he wasn't a graduate student... you had just ﬁnished your freshman year in college. You were so excited about your experiments and results…. Always kind when someone had a question… Always smiling.
Austin, you were everything I could have asked for in an undergraduate student. I was repeatedly shocked by your intelligence, your novel ideas, and your dedication to science; I know seasoned researchers who don't think at your depth! I remember contacting you a few months after you left to get your opinion about a cloning strategy you had designed; that's how good you were. The biochemical community has lost a rising star, but I feel blessed to have worked with you.
I met Austin the summer that I was ﬁrst starting my job in a biochemistry lab. I was scared and nervous since I had never been in a lab seTng before then. I walked into the lab and saw a new face mixing in so well with the rest of my coworkers – Austin. Austin helped me more than anyone else that summer. He would help me ﬁnd protocols when I needed them, would supervise my experiments in case I messed them up, and he patiently explained everything I wanted to know. He made my transition into the lab so smooth and I couldn’t have thanked him enough for that. It pains me now to think about my interactions with him and understand that I never got the chance to say goodbye to him or even personally thank him for all of his help. Austin had such a genuine soul and I am blessed to have been in his presence. He was always so curious and eager to know the unknown and I think that’s why he enjoyed working in the lab so much. I specially remember him presenting his project at our weekly lab meetings – I saw his face light up as he explained the progress he was making! He was so excited and proud to present the data he had been working on. I saw passion in him – passion for science and research and it made me see the research ﬁeld in a whole diﬀerent light. I only knew him for a summer but he as a person has made such an impact on my life. Austin was such a caring person, and the world has suﬀered such a great loss. My condolences go out to his family and friends. Be proud of the person he was and the legacy he created, his memories will go further than anyone has expected
Austin, you were a smart young man with passion for science. I remember you working independently on your own project, you didn’t need a senior student to guide you when you were a summer research student in Karlett Parra's Lab in 2011. You were a natural born scientist with very creative thoughts. You also were very kind, I remember you helping everyone who needed help in the lab. It's a tragedy to lose such a kind young man who always had a smile for everyone. I appreciate every moment I worked with you.
Austin was a pleasure to know and deﬁnitely the type of person who brought a lot of talent to the table. I remember meeting him for the ﬁrst time and was impressed with his passion for both science and baseball. A memory that comes to mind would be how I would always catch him analyzing baseball stats almost right after an experiment or during the downtime. He deﬁnitely was a pleasure to work with and to call a friend. He will be missed.
Austin, I remember the summer you spent in Karlett's lab very well. You immediately took charge of your project, and you were extremely quick in understanding new concepts and methods. Your intelligence and obvious brilliance in science deeply impressed me, and none of us doubted that you had a promising academic career ahead of you. In addition to your professionalism at such a young age, you were also very kind and friendly to everyone around you. I feel honored that I had the chance to be your colleague.
Collecting stories so that everyone can see who Austin Hudson-Lapore was to each of us.