Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholar Alonso Cruz won the second place $750 prize in the undergraduate category of the Fund it Forward Student Video Challenge, a student video competition presented by the Science Coalition.
"I'm deeply honored and humbled to be selected as the national runner up in this competition," Cruz said. "Just knowing that I had a community of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, advisors, and so many others supporting me through this process is the biggest win that I could ever ask for."
A junior human physiology major from Beaverton, Ore., Cruz focused his video on research he and his lab partners are doing in the Hosseinzadeh Lab designing proteins using computational methods. Their hope is to design peptide binders that can be used as a detection model in biosensors to identify gum disease, which affects more than half of Americans age 30 or older.
“In the future, will be able to detect the early stages of periodontal disease, thereby reducing the incidence of gum disease and improving the quality of life for massive amounts of people,” Cruz explains in his video, which he produced largely by himself using a GoPro video camera.
Moving forward, Cruz plans to work on more video projects related to advancement in research as well as the importance of public health communication. He continues to serve on the executive board of the Scientific Research Society (SRS), a student-organized club here at UO dedicated to helping students grow their skills in scientific literacy and communication. Earlier this month, Cruz won the Knight Campus Communications Award, which recognizes an individual or team who has gone above and beyond to widely and creatively communicate about the important work that goes on in the Knight Campus in a way that effectively demonstrates its impact to both to the scientific community and to the public
Karl Reasoner, Cruz’s advisor in the Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholar program, singled Cruz out for his dedication to science communication.
“In the program we dedicate quite a bit of time to understanding and practicing science communication, and Alonso has a knack for being able to distill difficult concepts into easily understandable messages,” Reasoner said. “It’s been really fun to watch him grow and excel in this area.”