2021 Tillman Scholar

Alonso Torres

University of California - San Francisco

“Chase your passion no matter how outlandish of an idea it is. Dedication to your goal will lead to communities and people that believe in you along the way.”

Alonso joined the military during high school to broaden his future career opportunities. Throughout his honorable service as a mechanic shop supervisor and convoy driver, he developed a deep appreciation for combat medics which elucidated a passion for researching mechanisms involved in human physiology. From these experiences, his military leadership skills and education molded his vision toward a professorship at a research institution where he will bioengineer tools to combat diseases and improve health equity.

Alonso’s mechanic skills laid a foundation for clarifying and troubleshooting complex biological systems. For example, a heart is an engine that pumps blood and combines electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components similarly to engine spark plugs, pistons, and valves. Throughout his undergraduate education, Alonso was a research intern at various universities. Recently, he’s helped engineer an implantable artificial kidney and pancreas to assist patients with renal disease and diabetes. Along with his research, he has utilized his military leadership experience toward mentoring students in the lab and community. Alonso promotes health among youth as the coach and president of a non-profit youth soccer club. He relates to the players because they express similar concerns and obstacles that he encountered as an adolescent, oldest child in their families, or as a child of immigrants.

Through these avenues, Alonso will continue promoting hope and confidence within his community. With his research, he will strive to enhance therapeutic outcomes for patients by investigating cell and biomaterial interfaces as a Ph.D. student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering.