Travis Conrad Mazer, a doctoral candidate studying molecular genetics and genomics, died unexpectedly Monday, April 24, 2017, in St. Louis. Mazer was 25.
A Kalamazoo, Mich., native who was fascinated by science and politics, Mazer began working toward a PhD in August at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Mazer’s research focused on lysosomal biology in cellular stress and homeostasis, with a goal of understanding pathways to enhance cellular longevity. He worked in the lab of Abhinav Diwan, MD, an associate professor of medicine, and will be listed as an author on an upcoming research paper from Diwan’s lab.
“With his ‘can-do’ and ‘can-be-done’ attitude, he often brought a sense of direction to perplexing scientific problems that we would be debating in various settings in the lab,” Diwan said. “As a mentor and a trainee, we had nurtured a relationship based upon mutual respect for each other’s intellect and skill sets. … In many ways, I feel that I have lost a member of my extended family, someone who I cared for and whose successes I looked forward to celebrating.”
Before Mazer began pursuing a doctoral degree, he worked for two years as a research technician in the lab of Zachary Pincus, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental biology and genetics at the School of Medicine. Diwan and Pincus both described Mazer as one who was exuberant about research.
“He was really engaged with his interests,” Pincus said. “It wasn’t just work — he would get really excited about science and loved to talk about it.”
Before moving to St. Louis, Mazer worked as a research assistant at University of Michigan Medical School. Before that, he earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Michigan. While an undergraduate student, he was active in political and philosophy clubs.
He is survived by his parents, Wendy and Kevin Mazer; sisters, Mallory and Madison; brothers, Taylor, Trent (Kaitlin) and Tate; grandmothers, Jacqueline Roberts and Joyce Griffin; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Mazer’s family will hold a private service at a later date. His body has been donated to Washington University for teaching and research.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center (KAMSC) Annual Fund, in memory of Travis Mazer; 600 W. Vine St., Suite 400; Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008.