The College of Science & Engineering comprises many incredible and talented students, and Courtney Cochran is no exception. She is a recent graduate who earned a degree in biology with a Spanish minor. Cochran’s experiences at TCU and in the biology department provided her with a unique and meaningful undergraduate experience.
During her time at TCU, Cochran was involved with the student organization Student Foundation, the faith-based sorority Eta Iota Sigma, an anti-human trafficking organization, and the International Justice Mission. Cochran also worked as a Resident Assistant in Milton Daniel Hall, a residence hall designated for students in the John V. Roach Honors College. She was also a Chancellor’s Scholar, which is the most prestigious academic scholarship offered by TCU.
Cochran’s interest in science sparked after taking an ecology course with Ray Drenner, professor of biology, and John Horner, professor of biology, who served as mentors to her throughout her academic career. Matthew Chumchal, associate professor in the biology department and director of the Pre-Health Professions Institute, was also an influential mentor as the head advisor for her honors thesis.
Cochran’s senior honors thesis project through the Honors College, focused on mercury contamination in fish residing in the Gulf of Mexico – a critical issue due to the negative health implications of mercury levels in fish. Cochran has studied nearly 400 fish samples to determine the mercury level in different species.
During the summer of 2015, Cochran was selected for a competitive and prestigious internship through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Program where she completed an independent research project at Rutgers University.
Cochran was also one of the first undergraduates to participate in the CSE SciCom “Jargon is Jibberish” workshops in the spring of 2016, which provide students with helpful exercises that prepare them to communicate their scientific research to lay audiences. Cochran said this workshop series taught her to become a more effective communicator by telling stories to make connections with an audience.
“We focused on relaying the importance of our research to the general public in a way that is easily understood,” said Cochran.
The support of her mentors, her internship experience and the SciCom workshops contributed to the success of her final thesis presentation, as well as her applications to graduate schools.