From Cocke County to Cambridge

By Chris Hedgepeth

Brad O' DellThere aren’t many first generation college students who matriculate at the University of Tennessee and go on to study at Cambridge University, but College Scholar William Brad O’Dell of Newport, Tennessee, is one of those success stories.

Graduating summa cum laude from UT in May 2009, Brad was accepted into the prestigious NIH–Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program to work on his doctorate in biochemistry at Cambridge while conducting research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. The program, which funds tuition and provides living and travel expenses for students entering doctoral programs at either Oxford or Cambridge, chose only 11 students this year from a strong national pool. This is a tremendous honor, certainly befitting someone like Brad, a star student and an exemplary ambassador for the College Scholars Program for the past 3 years.

As an undergraduate, Brad worked with Dr. Fred Schell and Dr. David C. Baker, both of the UT Knoxville Department of Chemistry, to craft a program in structural chemistry combining chemistry, physics, and mathematics. With particular emphasis on nuclear magnetic resonance and neutron scattering experimentation, Brad’s research involved the structural characterization of aqueous solutions of amino acids and carbohydrates. For all his good work, he was a 2009 recipient of the Cambridge International Student Scholarship, and in 2008 he was one of three UTK students—the rest also College Scholars—awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Now Brad is using his graduate partnership with NIH to work in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Brindle at the Cambridge Department of Biochemistry, immersing himself in the techniques of hyperpolarized MR spectroscopy and MR spectroscopic imaging. He hopes to apply his learning and experience to his work involving brain-specific metastasis in the laboratory of Dr. Kathleen Kelly at the National Cancer Institute. Wherever his exciting research and accomplishments take him, we know that Brad will continue to do his family, and all of us associated with College Scholars, proud.

Reprinted with permission from the College Scholars Program Fall 2009 Newsletter.