Most students on campus remember Andrew Fletcher ’17 as a social butterfly, a dedicated captain of the curling team and an easy-going guitarist of Terrapin Trio. What many may not realize, however, is Fletcher’s deep interest and remarkable talent in chemistry, which have earned him a spot at the prestigious nuclear engineering Ph.D. program at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.
Fletcher knew he wanted to study chemistry when he first arrived on the Hill, but it wasn’t until sophomore year that he discovered an interest in inorganic chemistry, a sub-discipline under which nuclear chemistry falls. Still, he was unsure about post-graduation plans until studying at the National Nuclear Chemistry Summer School Program (NCSS) before his senior year, where he was recognized as the top student in the program and was inspired to go to graduate school. This summer he plans to return to NCSS as a teaching assistant.
Majors: Chemistry and Mathematics
Hometown: Darien, Conn.
High School: Darien High School
Now his plan for the future has crystallized further: he intends to do radiochemistry research in a national lab and eventually become a professor.
“It’s kind of funny. Hamilton, which has almost nothing to do with nuclear chemistry, still greatly affected my choice to enter that field,” Fletcher said. “The community in the nuclear chemistry field is kind of like Hamilton—it’s small, friendly and at the same time, people are passionate and push each other to do their best.” In fact, and similar to Hamilton’s academics, he chose the Colorado School of Mines in part because its program is interdisciplinary.
Fletcher continued to outline the ways in which his experience at Hamilton led to this pivotal point: “While a chemistry major here, I discovered and explored my passion for chemistry and research, particularly through working with Karen Brewer in her inorganic lab.” Furthermore, he added, “I also feel that Hamilton has prepared me very well for graduate school, and I know I will be able to take on the many challenges on my way to a Ph.D.”
Beyond Hamilton’s support in skill-building and exploring interests, Fletcher said that the College’s lack of nuclear chemistry opportunities “was ironically part of why I chose to join the NCSS last year. Hamilton taught me to keep an open mind and to follow my interests, so I checked it out, and next thing you know, I’m doing nuclear chemistry!”
Regardless of the catalyst for Fletcher's burgeoning career in nuclear chemistry, a promising future awaits.