Crises like Ebola and mad-cow disease are issues most of us only know from the news. For Alex, they fuel his passion for laboratory planning. “We have a mission to care for people, animals and plants, and a duty to prevent disease outbreaks and find cures,” he says. “What we do improves the quality of life of researchers and has a direct impact on research. Designing spaces that are so critical for humankind makes you very proud of what you do.” Alex came to SmithGroup impressed with the firm’s leading role in designing neuroscience facilities. “They are not easy buildings. But working on these complex spaces, and sharing what we learn with the greater community, is incredibly important.” Even well into his career, says Alex, “I learn something new every day—and try to teach people I work with, too.” He also looks for enlightenment in his travels. “One of these days, I’d like to trace back my heritage, exploring Spain and Morocco to learn more about the culture,” he says.