Undergrad Chemistry Research Leads to PhD Pursuit

Keilian MacCulloch ’19 grew up playing soccer in a small Canadian town, so he was drawn to the intimate academic and athletic scale of Pacific University. 

When he started as a freshman, he said, he was interested in all sciences. But his focus sharpened when he took a general chemistry class.

“I just really fell in love with chemistry,” he said. The subject was attractive, and Pacific’s faculty members are “great people,” he said.

With classmate Hoan Nguyen ’19, MacCulloch is researching ways natural gas can be purified by the removal of nitrogen. His research, he says, might be thought of as employing a kind of “nitrogen sponge” that can be placed in a stream of natural gas, removed, squeezed dry and replaced in the stream.

Pacific is the No. 1 private research university in the Northwest, according to a National Science Foundation survey. The opportunity for students to conduct original research and scholarship across the sciences, arts, humanities, education and business is a core part of the undergraduate student experience.

And it’s an experience that has set MacCulloch on the path to his future.

After four years of study and soccer at Pacific, he plans to go on to a PhD in inorganic chemistry.

“I will continue to do chemistry, hopefully, for the rest of my life,” he said.

This story first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Pacific Magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.

Friday, April 19, 2019