COSAM News Articles 2020 December COSAM Graduation Marshal seeks to elevate the student experience for future generations

COSAM Graduation Marshal seeks to elevate the student experience for future generations

Published: 12/08/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

“My defining Auburn experience is how my mentors have encouraged me to explore the world of research and push myself outside of my own boundaries to take advantage of every opportunity,” explained Noah Gibson, the Fall 2020 Graduation Marshal for the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). “I want to give back to future generations of students and help them have an exceptional college experience like I did.”

This South Carolina native began Auburn University as an art history and anthropology major.

Gibson then took a chemistry class, and a teaching assistant, Alex Bredar, sparked a desire to continue his education and earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. For the last three years, he has been conducting research in the lab of Byron Farnum, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Dr. Farnum has given me the freedom to pursue a project independently and he mentors all of the students in his lab in a way that creates an enthusiastic and creative learning environment,” Gibson said. “The research includes synthesizing materials for solar cells and clean energy, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity.” 

“Noah has been an outstanding undergraduate researcher,” said Farnum. “He has immersed himself in our lab so much that I often forget he is not a graduate student. He regularly attends group meetings and asks insightful questions. His focus on details and independence in planning and executing experiments is impressive. To this point, his careful attention to temperature changes during a reaction he has been studying have proved to be the key observation that has broken this project open and led to significant advancements.”

Gibson has been giving back throughout his time as an undergraduate student.

“I love to volunteer conducting science demonstrations and sharing the importance of environmental stewardship with the Auburn Chapter of the American Chemical Society,” he said. “We visit local schools and share our excitement for chemistry with younger students.”

Gibson has also enjoyed being a learning assistant for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Being a learning assistant gives me the opportunity to help students with the perspective from a peer,” Gibson added.  

He is excited to begin a doctoral program in chemistry. He would like to concentrate of research of renewable energy pursuing material science for advancements in solar energy.

While at Auburn, Alex Bredar has become so much more than a graduate student in Farnum’s lab that sparked his first interest in chemistry.

“Alex helped me realize my potential and what I can accomplish with an academic career through teaching and research,” Gibson said.

She has become a friend, life coach, mentor and an inspiration.

“With her mentorship over the past three years, I would like to give future undergraduate students the opportunities that I have had through a career in academia,” he added.

Bredar recalls meeting Gibson and working with him.

“It can be really difficult to make a distinct impression as an undergrad in a setting like Auburn due to the large class sizes,” shared Alex Bredar. “However, when I TA’d Noah for his first general chemistry class he immediately stood out as, not only an excellent student, but a curious and creative thinker as well. It wasn’t long after the conclusion of the semester that I recruited him to train under me as an undergraduate researcher. He’s been an absolute joy to work with. I think sometimes we focus on the impact that a mentor can have on a mentee, but the reality is that he’s had just as large of an impact on me as I hope I’ve had on him. He’s gone above and beyond what I would have expected for any undergraduate I planned to mentor, and the amount of work he’s been able to accomplish in his time at Auburn speaks highly to the kind of scientist he will be in the future. It will be an immense pleasure to watch him grow as scientist in graduate school and beyond!”

COSAM's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Robert Boyd, selected Noah for recognition as Graduation Marshal from a pool of outstanding COSAM graduating students.

“Noah stood out for his academic excellence, and also for his contributions to teaching and research. But I knew that I had found an outstanding COSAM representative when he asked if there was a way to acknowledge his mentors when he was recognized at commencement. Noah’s generous spirit impressed me greatly and I’m proud to have him represent our college," Boyd said. 

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