Luke Sanchez


Luke Sanchez is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a bachelors of science in biology. He was born and raised in New Mexico and came to NMSU with the ambitions of continuing on to medical school after graduation. Luke enjoys his free time by finding ways to get outdoors including hiking, biking, kayaking, and climbing. In the lab, Luke aims to explore how diet and over nutrition effects the structure, function, and overall health of the eye in Drosophila melanogaster, aka the common fruit fly.



Project Description:

Luke’s work began in the Fly Lab in 2017 under Dr. Jennifer Curtiss. For some time he was focused primarily on classifying genes thought to be involved in the Drosophila visual cycle. After an interesting discovery highlighting the impact of a high-fat diet on eye structure, Luke shifted his project towards characterizing the effects of over nutrition on eye degeneration. Luke is currently writing an undergraduate thesis for the HHMI program and aims to eventually publish his findings.




  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Author or co-author a manuscript submitted for publication
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media
  • Attend workshop on applying for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program
  • Apply for graduate or professional school



Luke’s Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Curtis:

Dr. Jennifer Curtiss is originally from Nebraska and earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She completed her PhD in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder before moving on to post-docs at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany and at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She is currently an Associate Professor in Biology at NMSU. Her research utilizes the powerful molecular genetic tools available in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to address questions pertaining to human health, including eye development, photoreceptor degeneration, and metabolism.