Ph.D. degree from UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell

Westport resident Brian Blanchette, son of Norman T. and Freida A. Blanchette, is the first recipient of the joint Ph.D. degree between the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMass Dartmouth and the Department of Chemistry at UMass Lowell.

February 25, 2002 

Westport resident Brian Blanchette, son of Norman T. and Freida A. Blanchette, is the first recipient of the joint Ph.D. degree between the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMass Dartmouth and the Department of Chemistry at UMass Lowell. 

The program, initiated in 1995, came to final fruition when Brian became the first graduate student at UMass Dartmouth to join it. While conducting undergraduate research in Professor Bal Ram Singh’s laboratory, Blanchette explored the possibility of employing an enzyme from quahogs to detoxify PCB contamination in the New Bedford Harbor. His dissertation topic, An Enzyme-Based Dechlorination of PCBs: Glutathione-S-Transferase from the Northern Quahog, Mercinaria mercinaria, as a Promising Candidate, was defended on December 5, 2001 at UMass Lowell. Blanchette’ s dissertation was under the direction of Ram Singh and Assistant Professor Yuegang Zuo, from UMass Dartmouth and David Ryan and Eugene Barry, professors at UMass Lowell. 

The joint program allows a seamless transfer of credits from UMass Dartmouth to UMass Lowell, simultaneous administration of cumulative exams, and the use of video conferencing for the oral research proposal. Six more Ph.D. candidates are working toward degrees under the joint program. 

Blanchette, a Westport High School graduate, earned an Associate of Arts degree from Bristol Community College in 1994. At BCC, he received the Lamp and Book Award for Excellence in Anatomy and Physiology and The Sherman Scholarship for Excellence in Chemistry. At UMass Dartmouth, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry (cum laude) in 1997, was on the honor roll for three semesters, and won awards for Outstanding Academic Performance from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for three years. 

Following his undergraduate research, Blanchette was awarded a Travel Grant from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and attended its 11th International Congress in San Francisco, CA. At the meeting, Blanchette won an undergraduate poster competition, besting students from schools including Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Blanchette earned a Master’s of Science degree at UMass Dartmouth in 2000 and was awarded a certificate for Outstanding Teacher Assistant in Chemistry/Biochemistry. He was also the recipient of the American Institute of Chemists’ Outstanding Biochemistry Graduate Student Award. 

He is currently a research and development scientist at a local biotechnology firm, BBTech.


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