Tran Lu 2021

WEBSITE(S)| Curriculum Vitae | Google Scholar Citations | Bioelectronics NRT | Department of Chemistry | SSPB


Lesa Tran Lu is an Associate Teaching Professor at the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) and the Department of Chemistry. She is also the IBB Associate Director for Educational Programs. She received her B.S. (2007), M.A. (2009), and Ph.D. (2012) in Chemistry from Rice University. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow under the mentorship of Prof. Lon J. Wilson, Tran studied the development of gadolinium-loaded carbon nanostructures as medical agents to improve stem cell retention and MRI detection in cardiomyoplasty.

She joined the Rice teaching faculty in 2012 to transform how General Chemistry is taught by developing an inquiry-based learning model known as the Student-Centered Active Learning at Rice (SCAL@R) method. With her colleagues, Tran studies how the SCAL@R method impacts student learning. Tran also teaches the Chemistry of Cooking, which is taught in collaboration with Rice Dining staff and Houston-area chefs. In recognition of her teaching excellence, Tran was named a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Teaching Excellence (2018-current) and is the recipient a Teaching Innovation Fund (2018), the Brown Foundation Teaching Grant (2014, 2019), and the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2019, 2021).

In 2019, Tran joined the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB). She currently oversees the operations and development of the its various graduate educational programs, which include the Systems, Synthetics, and Physical Biology (SSPB) Ph.D. Program, as well as the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program, which trains graduate students to become future leaders of team-based interdisciplinary research in the field of bioelectronics.

Tran spends much of her time supporting undergraduate student life at Rice. She formerly served as a Faculty Resident Associate at Sid Richardson College (2018-2020) and is currently a Divisional Advisor for the School of Natural Sciences (2015-present), a major advisor for the Department of Chemistry (2013-present), a member of several university academic committees, and a faculty sponsor to multiple student organizations and student-taught courses.

  • Department of Chemistry (CHEM) | General Chemistry I (CHEM 121), General Chemistry II (CHEM 122), Chemistry of Cooking (CHEM 178), Undergraduate Teaching Practicum (CHEM 280), Research for Undergraduates (CHEM 391, 491, 492, 493) 

  • Systems, Synthetic, & Physical Biology (SSPB) | Graduate Seminar (SSPB 550), Graduate Teaching in SSPB (SSPB 599)

  • NSF Graduate Research Traineeship (NRT) in Bioelectronics | Interdisciplinarity I (SSPB 601), Interdisciplinarity II (SSPB 602), Bioelectronics Colloquium (SSPB 610), Bioelectronics Writing (SSPB 620), Bioelectronics Research (SSPB 700)



Ph.D., Chemistry, Rice University (2012)

M.A., Chemistry, Rice University (2009)

B.S., Chemistry, Rice University (2007)

Honors & Awards

2021, George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, Rice University

2019, George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, Rice University

2018, Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow, Rice University

2008, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Researcher Media

The chemistry of cooking at Rice University: Scientist meets chef

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