December 8, 2014

University of Montevallo announces fall 2014 commencement speaker

MONTEVALLO—The University of Montevallo has announced that the speaker for fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 12 will be Dr. Lawrence J. DeLucas, a former payload specialist for NASA and a professor in the department of optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

A native of Syracuse, New York, DeLucas holds a B.S. and an M.S. in chemistry, a B.S. in physiological optics, the O.D. (optometry) and the Ph.D. in biochemistry, all from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to his duties as a professor, he serves as director of the Center for Structural Biology and the director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center X-Ray Crystallography Shared Facility at UAB. He also is a senior scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, the UAB Vision Sciences Research Center and the UAB Institute of Oral Health.

From 1990-1992, DeLucas was a NASA astronaut payload specialist and flew on the Columbia Space Shuttle flight STS-50 in June 1992, participating in 31 different scientific materials processing experiments. After this flight, he served as the NASA Chief Scientist for the International Space Station at NASA headquarters until 1995.

In 1999, DeLucas was recognized as one of the scientists who could shape the 21st century in an article titled The Brains Behind the 21st Century, published by The Sunday Times of London. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame and, in March 2014, he was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

DeLucas frequently makes scientific and educational presentations to area schools, youth organizations and academic conferences on topics from biotechnology to the International Space Station to cystic fibrosis research.