Meet Dorian Thompson

Dorian Thompson is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering. His research focuses on the detection of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFS through electrochemistry.

Thompson said that millions of Americans are exposed to PFSs well above a healthy threshold. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, PFS exposure can lead to cancer, liver damage, and decreased fertility.

Thompson has a rich background in research aiming to improve the lives of ordinary people. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, he performed experiments testing a more efficient COVID-19 detection method than the default PCR tests. His main research was simulating easier ways to capture and detect poisonous gases.

He also had a full-ride scholarship with honors to the university. Part of the program was to participate in PITT Excel. PITT Excel is a program that provides access to academic counseling, mentoring, and more in its mission to develop historically underrepresented engineers.

“The program was very diverse and diversity offers different experiences from one’s own experience, right? So not only do you learn about their experiences, but you also get to learn about their approach and their outlook to problems for certain experiences. A big thing that I learned from them was about the financial cost involved in planning,” Thompson said.

He also said that Excel had gotten him out of his comfort zone as an introvert. Throughout most of his academic career, he stuck to himself and didn’t ask for help, but PITT brought him out of his shell. The program bore similarities to John Lof, he said, as both groups are filled with like-minded individuals looking to contribute to society.

Thompson also wanted to gain experience in the industry. As an intern at the plastics manufacturer Axel Plastics, he did quality control and took inventory, research, and development.

What brought him to UConn, he said, was its eminent nanotechnology program. He heard about John Lof through his lab mates.

He thought it was a great opportunity to further his growth as a researcher. Likewise, he had never taken on a leadership role, having shied away from it, even at EXCEL. 

“I feel like John Lof would further myself both as a researcher and as just a person in general. I saw it as a great opportunity to sort of get outside my comfort zone and learn new skills,” Thompson said.