Landon Deru (EXSC ’23) is a mentor, husband, father, and YouTuber. His unique path through life has prepared him to be a light to his students, his family, and thousands of people digitally around the world.
Deru’s education includes an undergraduate degree, an MBA, a few years in medical school, and a master’s degree in exercise sciences. Now, as part of his PhD in exercise sciences, Deru is studying lifestyle medicine, which involves helping people improve their health without medication. His current research focuses on fasting.
“Fasting is not easy,” Deru says. “But there are so many awesome benefits that come from fasting, so we’re trying to discover ways to make fasting a little easier.” His team is exploring how exercising, starting a fast with different foods, and even cheating during a fast affect the experience. The goal is to use fasting to reduce chronic diseases.
In the lab, Deru mentors sixteen students. He has used his broad educational background to kickstart phlebotomy training for his students and counsel them on academic and career decisions.
Deru’s experiences have persuaded some students to continue with their plans and others to change directions. “It’s easy for people to think if you want to make a good living, you have to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a dentist, but there are so many options out there,” Deru says. “Just take a step back and find what your passion is as you pursue it.”
Deru and his wife are experienced in taking a step back and exploring their options. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in your education and in exactly this perfect plan, but being flexible is huge,” he says “Including the Lord in your decisions and just moving forward with faith is the way to do it.”
This openness to flexibility has helped the Derus raise five kids, ranging from eighteen months to twelve years old, who are active in sports and music. “They are so fun. And my wife is an absolute rockstar. She runs the show full-time while I’m here at school.”
Deru and his wife’s example of prioritizing their kids is impacting families worldwide.
When Deru was working on his MBA, his family started making YouTube videos to stay in touch with extended family and friends. Surprisingly to them, thousands of people started watching their videos. Initially, Deru wasn’t sure why anyone watched their videos. But he realized that he and his family have been blessed with something not everyone has—and that blessing draws people to their videos.
“We've taken for granted so much of what we have and what we've been given in our family relationships,” he says “Lots of people don't have that. So they come to us to get that sense of how they want to raise their family or things that they want in their lives.” Deru and his family’s membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also impacted their viewers.
“We've had probably 40 or 50 baptisms worldwide that have come from our channel. People knew we were members of the Church and started looking into it, or they were open to having the missionaries come when they knocked on the door because they knew members—us—through YouTube,” he shares. “It's been fun to see the gospel spread in a nontraditional way.”
After Deru graduates this summer, he plans to work on postdoctoral research and eventually become a professor. Wherever he and his family go, they will continue to be a light to those around them.