By Vicki Bolam

Christopher Lam took full advantage of the opportunities UCSC offers in some of engineering’s most challenging and innovative fields. That included hands-on nanotechnology experience as an undergraduate researcher in Professor Mark Akeson’s biomolecular engineering lab, as well as a minor in bioinformatics. Lam was also part of a student team that designed and built a robotic device to filter plastic debris out of the ocean (see “Favorite class,” below). The team sold their device to a local company, which has plans to develop it further. “I’d never met the people on the team when we started,” says Lam, “and now we are all good friends. We even went to Las Vegas together on spring break to celebrate.”

What made you choose UCSC?
I chose UC Santa Cruz at least in part for its beautiful surroundings. The weather, complemented by the wildlife on campus, gives a very calm and unique setting for an educational institution.

What surprised you most about UCSC?
The thing about UCSC that really took me by surprise was the number of extracurricular activities. Most campuses offer sports like basketball, volleyball, and swimming, but UCSC also has classes in sailing, surfing, and many other very fun, enjoyable outdoor activities.

Favorite class or professor and why?
My senior design project class, led by Professor Stephen Petersen. Our team of five students built a fully functional autonomous robot that collects plastic debris from the ocean. We spent an intense 10 weeks planning, executing, and troubleshooting the device–all with above-and-beyond supervision and assistance from Professor Petersen. I learned more in this class than in any other I took at UCSC–and I enjoyed it the most!

Greatest accomplishment or proudest moment?
My proudest moment was being invited to join Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Being eligible for admission into this group really validated all the hard work I’ve done in school and showed how far it has taken me.

How has UCSC shaped you?
UCSC has helped me become the active person I am today. Before I came here, I didn’t partake much in outdoor activities or sports, and I was very passive about directing my own education. At UCSC I have become more active and persistent in keeping my career goals in line with my education–while at the same time maintaining a more active outdoor lifestyle.

What are your future plans?
I plan to take a year after graduation to explore the bioengineering industry before going to graduate school. I want to use the knowledge I gained from UCSC’s bioengineering curriculum and my experience working in Mark Akeson’s nanolab to pave a new path in engineering groundbreaking pharmaceuticals.