Chemistry & Biochemistry


2020 LAS Awards

Outstanding Undergraduate Student - BS in Biochemistry
Clayton is a Colorado native, born and raised in rural Black Forest where he raised crops and livestock with his family while being home schooled through seventh grade. After moving into Colorado Springs proper, he bounced from school to school, ultimately dropping out of public education altogether due to frustrations with the priorities of his peers, and unresponsive institutional leadership with which he had many conflicts. After dropping out, he set about getting his GED in what would have been the beginning of his senior year of high school, receiving the degree almost a year earlier than he would have graduated. He spent the next five years moving around the city, playing music, and working all manner of jobs from food service to public opinion research, security, and fabrication. He never found much satisfaction until resuming education at Pikes Peak Community College. There, he earned an EMT certification, and an Associate of Science degree, all while rekindling a childhood preoccupation with the big questions surrounding the chemistry of life, and properly beginning his higher education as a nontraditional student. From there, he transferred to UCCS to begin work on a BS in biochemistry, researching organic and biological chemistry. Through collaborating with his fellow researchers, finding employment as a peer tutor for chemistry, biology, and physics at the Science Excel Center, and working to develop new materials for the nursing chemistry program, he found a sense of purpose in working with others to understand the strange, marvelous, and often counterintuitive world of the scientific endeavor. Starting at PPCC, and continuing here at UCCS, Clayton gained an appreciation for the culture of learning, collaboration, and research, and the attitude engendered by the scientific method. Despite a troubled passage through primary and secondary education, university life seems to be a good fit. At this point, Clayton is a self-described “lifer”, hoping to pursue a postgraduate degree, continue his research, and eventually offer his somewhat unusual perspective as an instructor. So long as he can contribute meaningfully to the body of human knowledge, and aid in the development of those who would do the same, he thinks he’ll be satisfied.