Inspirational Graduate Student Remembered

Gage Coltrain
In his application for admission, Gage Coltrain wrote about his excitement and passion for chemistry, and his desire to make a positive contribution to the world by advancing science.

It is with much sadness that we must relay the fact that Gage passed away Friday, March 20, 2015 due to sarcoma. Gage entered the PhD program in the fall of 2013 and was a member of the Kumar lab.

Upon hearing the news, Dr. Kumar said, “Personally, this is terribly sad news. Gage was a second year grad student in my research group. We lost one of the brightest, mature, and soft-spoken graduate student. Gage was a fighter. He attended my Molecular Biochemistry class last week despite suffering a collapsed lung. I’m deeply saddened by his demise.”

Some of his lab members shared the following reflections.

“He was always so upbeat and optimistic. Every time I found myself down, he would never let me be negative. He brought such a great presence and joy to the lab every time I saw him. He will be missed greatly” said Jacqueline Morris.

Dr. Srinivas Jayanthi said, “He left a cell phone charger for me in room G03 and always used to say that ‘Sri, your phone should never die.’ As I am a vegetarian, he was concerned about my protein source and for my birthday, he gave me a big container of mixed nuts, which is still with me. I am really going to miss him a lot. He was very inquisitive and always showed interest in learning new things.”

Mercede Furr added, “Gage always said Good Morning or Hello to me when either he or I entered the room. He was always in a good mood and we had good conversations which made me really look forward to seeing him in lab and class. He would joke with me and make me laugh which leaves me with some great memories of him. One day I told him I couldn't figure out where I was going wrong on a math problem and with everything he was dealing with he took time out to work through the problem with me and when we found my error he even made me feel better saying that it was a simple mistake everyone makes. I knew he could help me because he was so smart. In Gage, I had a friendly ally in the lab. I was very happy that he joined our lab. I can honestly say that the days that I saw him and spoke with him it made my days better. I am truly missing him. I know he was a good person who deserved to experience so much more.”

Lab Instructor Chris Mazzanti said, “Gage taught for me in labs for most of his time here in the department. I was always pleased when I knew that he would be teaching a lab as his students seemed to be very happy to have him teach them, there were never problems with the labs. No matter what I asked of him, he always took care of it to the best of his ability with no complaints or comments (sometimes when I was encouraging comments he still had none). Gage was a very intelligent and soft spoken young man that I will miss but not forget.”

Professor Frank Millett reflected, “I am very saddened by the passing of Gage. I got to know him when he took my course Bioenergetics last Spring. He was struggling with his health at that time, but was very courageous in continuing to pursue his studies. He was a wonderful person, and I will miss him.”

David and Victoria Hayes summed up all of the department’s feelings with, “Gage was a very quiet, courteous young man. He took his TA position seriously and took care of business. Gage always did a good job and went above and beyond what was expected of him. It was a privilege to work with him. We were truly blessed to have Gage in our lives.”

Gage received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, graduating Summa cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2013. He entered the University of Arkansas graduate program with a Doctoral Academy Fellowship. He will be awarded his PhD posthumously. The family requests that memorials may be made in Gage’s name to St. Jude (stjude.org) or a cancer research organization of your choice.