It’s easy to see how Dante Lauretta’s 1993 University of Arizona bachelor’s degrees in physics and theoretical math are foundational in his career as a planetary scientist. Lauretta is principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission and a UA professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry.
But Lauretta also attributes his success to his third bachelor’s degree, Japanese. He describes his study of language and culture as a challenge that helped him focus his curiosity on fundamental questions of existence. It also came in handy when working with Japanese colleagues on the asteroid mission.
“Scientists are creative and they are curious. I believe art and science are different facets of the same human drive,” he says. “They both reach down into those core questions that drive every one of us: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? Why are we here?”
After receiving the College of Humanities Alumnus of the Year award in 2017, Lauretta and his wife, M. Katherine Crombie, the lead archive scientist for the OSIRIS-REx mission, worked with the college to create a scholarship supporting students whose own studies bridge the sciences and the humanities.
The Dante S. Lauretta and M. Katherine Crombie Award is the first interdisciplinary scholarship of its kind at the UA. Applicants must have declared either a major or minor in both the College of Humanities and the College of Science. Full-time juniors, seniors and graduate students are eligible.
“My career has benefited greatly by having dual majors in communications and geology. Dante and I are pleased to be able to provide support for students looking to make contributions at the intersection of science and the humanities,” Crombie says.
“The intersections are where the truly innovative ideas come from.”
Lauretta and Crombie have committed to growing their gift to $25,000 to endow the scholarship and support students in perpetuity.