By Kate Menzies, University & Public Affairs student writer
University of North Dakota Ph.D. candidate Richard Cochran is mastering the chemistry of success.
A Denver, Colo., native and president of the UND Chemistry Graduate Student Association, Cochran parlayed his hard work in forensic science chemistry into a special invitation to the recent 63rd Annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany.
In late June, Cochran, along with nearly 550 other young researchers from about 78 countries, attended the elite gathering in Lindau to discuss topics on an array of chemistry topics. Students and researchers alike used the forum to voice their ideas and discuss various projects all while building international networks.
Three main themes were discussed at this year’s Nobel Laureate Meeting: Green Chemistry, Chemical Energy Storage and Conversion and Biochemical Processes and Structures. They align with Cochran’s research interest, which focuses on analytical chemistry methodologies and instrumentation to solve complex problems to understand atmospheric chemical processes.
Cochran considers the Nobel Laureate Meeting a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I have not only had the honor of hearing seminars given by various Nobel Laureates in chemistry, but I have also had many opportunities to have one-on-one conversations with them,” Cochran said. “This dialogue has provided me with wisdom not only on a scientific level, but on a personal and professional level as well.
“This meeting has given me insight into the direct influences that great scientific discoveries can and will have on both the scientific community and general society.”
UND has helped Cochran prepare for not only the Nobel Laureate Meeting but also his future scientific endeavors.
“(UND) has allowed me to grow in becoming a young scientific researcher,” he said. “This has included invaluable mentorship by my supervisor and mentor, Dr. Alena Kubatova, as well as time spent in the classroom and through various activities as the President of the Chemistry Graduate Student Association.
The Nobel Laureate Meeting is just a stepping stone for Cochran, who says he hopes to one day “become a senior researcher at a government research agency, such as the EPA, DOE, or FBI, and contribute to either the environmental or forensic science community by conducting innovative and cutting-edge research.”
Cochran recently was awarded a National Science Foundation EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Doctoral Dissertation) award, which will support him for two years while he completes research on an original project he proposed.
Cochran just finished his third year of Ph.D. studies.
“Richard has always been extremely motivated,” said Kubatova, a UND Associate Professor and Cochran’s advisor. “He always wants to learn new things.”
Kubatova said Cochran’s is enthusiastic about his outreach efforts with local children and peers with whom he shares his passion and knowledge of chemistry. As Kubatova said it best, “he just cares.”
She hopes Cochran will come back to UND and be able to show his fellow students that they too can go out into the world of science and be successful.
David L. Dodds
Media Relations/Writer & Editor
Office of University Relations
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