In high school, Cooper Urban played football and lacrosse, was a senior class biology gold medalist, was on the principal’s list all four years, a member of both the National Honor Society and Latin Honor Society, and was the salutatorian at graduation.

He chose to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, not only so he could continue to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, but also because of the excellent STEM education Rensselaer provided. And he kept up the fast pace.

While at Rensselaer, Urban was a chemistry tutor and mentor, as well as a reading and literacy mentor for Troy Public Schools. He was a member of the men’s lacrosse team, where he was named the Liberty League’s Rookie of the Year in 2019 and selected as the Rensselaer male freshman Athlete of the Year for 2018-19. Urban also served as the vice president for the Rensselaer Science Ambassadors (SA), undergraduate students who work with K-12 students in the local area bringing science to life in their classrooms.

During the summer of 2021, Urban worked at the foreign regulatory affairs office for Pfizer’s COVID-19 program. In addition to meeting with and learning from Pfizer colleagues, the work gave him a global perspective of the pandemic and how other countries responded to the virus.

Urban is a dual major in biology and economics and plans to attend medical school, although he isn’t sure where he’ll end up at this point. “I’m still trying to decide between a few schools —Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern, and Cornell,” he said.

His undergraduate research was centered on studying the connection between the body’s circadian rhythms and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. He began work in the Hurley Lab in the spring of 2020, with activities that included supporting research on amyloid beta and Alzheimer’s pathology.

Sports has always been a large part of Urban’s life, which he says taught him “discipline, perseverance, and how to work with others toward a common goal.” Through his time at Rensselaer, he said he has also learned to stand up for himself and to not be afraid of being his own person. “I’ve found that people at RPI are really welcoming to ‘contrary’ perspectives, and that it often leads to constructive dialogues and positive actions,” he said.