Lu was born in a coastal city, Qingdao, in China, with over half of the country's marine scientists working there. He received his B.Sc. in Marine Fisheries at Tianjin Agricultural University before pursuing his Masters in Marine Ecology at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His Master’s thesis focused on the movement ecology of rockfish with acoustic monitoring methods and related techniques. In 2013 Lu joined the Reef Ecology Lab as a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Berumen to study the fine-scale movements and behavior of whale sharks.