Aaron Waller. Photo by Nancy Coombs/UNM-LA
Aaron Waller, a 2017 graduate of Los Alamos High School (LAHS), chose to complete his first two years of higher education at UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA). Waller focused on General Education courses at UNM-LA, and will transfer this fall to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces to pursue a B.S. in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and then a Ph.D. with a focus on Immunology.
“I chose UNM-LA because I can finish my general studies at a fraction of the cost of a four year university, and also get a top notch education. I am saving a lot of money by living at home,” Waller said.
Waller has been interested in biology since he was very young. At LAHS, he discovered he was fascinated with genetics.
“My brother seemed to be able to develop much bigger muscles than I could with the same workout. I wanted to learn about the genetic basis behind this,” he said.
After high school graduation he spent a year working with his father at Waller’s Plumbing & Heating. Although he enjoyed working in the family business, he preferred the intellectual challenge of college classes. In 2018 he accepted an internship at Specifica, Inc., a science lab working on building antibody libraries. Waller reflected, “I’m getting a chance to support the scientists with their research, which makes me even more excited about my future.”
At UNM-LA, Waller was a member of the 2019 Phi Theta Kappa New Mexico All-State Community College Academic Team and he served as the facilitator for the UNM-LA Beta Zeta Chi chapter of this national honor society. He also got involved with the local theater, taking on an improvisational role in the play “Murder at the Lone Elm” with Los Alamos Little Theater.
Looking ahead to his future studies, Waller said, “I’m fascinated with muscles and body building, and curious to see if we can evolve the limits of muscle growth. Can we develop skeletal muscles as strong as the heart muscle? I believe that’s where my research is headed.”
UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. More information about UNM-LA is available at losalamos.unm.edu.