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Distinguished Graduates 2021: Science awardee Dr. Poulin credits early internship with success

December 3, 2021

Dr. Remington Poulin, a 2007 graduate, received the 2021 Distinguished Graduate award for science. Dr. Poulin is currently a research assistant professor and the Director of Spectroscopy Facilities at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where his research group focuses on understanding chemistry’s role in marine communication. 

Speaking to the Class of 2025 at the ceremony, he said, “The one thing I want you to take home is the fact that what roots you lay today and foundations you build are absolutely going to defend and change your course of life.” He got students thinking carefully about their future and stressed the importance of a good high school education and experience.

While Poulin was in high school, he took advantage of the many avenues for leadership. He participated as an active member of the Boy Scouts, Student Government Association (SGA), marching band, and chess club. His professional scientific career truly began during his junior year at Linganore, where he gained practical training as an intern in the biopharmaceutical development group at the National Cancer Institute. This Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program allowed him to explore new aspects of his craft and quickly set him up for success in his future work.

Poulin, who is on top row of students and five spaces to the right, on a high school class trip. (Makayla Devries)

Dr. Poulin’s passion goes beyond dedication toward service and molecules. He thoroughly enjoys scuba diving, traveling, nature photography, volunteering, and archery. He has also utilized his time as a Science Judge for Peach State Lolus Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a science partner for both the Native American Alliance for Teach for America and for Habitat for Humanity, and volunteering as the Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts.

Some of his notable work stems from as early as May of 2006, when he was a Werner H. Kirstin Student Intern and began his work with the National Cancer Institute. Starting that year in Hawai’i, Mānoa, he gained work experience as an assistant, intern, and researcher for several years up until May 2012. He then transitioned to his job experience in Georgia, where he spent several years working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. In Germany, Poulin became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, as well as the Metabolomics Consortium Head and an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Researcher at Friedrich Schiller University.

Beth Ericsson was a science teacher during Poulin’s time as a high school student, and she speaks highly of his drive to do well and his presence in any learning environment.

“He was so inquisitive and curious. You could tell he was gonna go on into science,” said Ericsson. “Even in high school, he just had such an intellectual thirst for scientific knowledge. It was striking about him.”

In Germany, over the course of 2018 and 2019, Poulin acquired teaching experience in Chemical Ecology with Dr. Georg Pohnert, and in Bioanalytical Chemistry Seminar with Dr. David Russo and Dr. Pierre Stallforth. His knowledge shows as he makes several efforts toward peer reviewing and student mentoring.

Poulin has traveled for his work  and uses that experience in current endeavors. He attended the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa with a scholarship, where he received a Bachelor of Art degree in chemistry and a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology. Then, he studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, and received his doctoral degree in Organic Chemistry.

He was so inquisitive and curious. You could tell he was gonna go on into science. Even in high school, he just had such an intellectual thirst for scientific knowledge. It was striking about him.

— Beth Ericsson

Dr. Poulin’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. He has earned international awards, honors, and grants. Poulin received the Best Student Oral Presentation Award in July of 2015 at the International Society of Chemical Ecology in Stockholm, Sweden, along with a travel grant to attend a workshop with the Swedish Royal Academy of Science in Rjorn, Sweden. Georgia Tech has recognized Poulin as an outstanding T.A. award finalist. Bonn Germany awarded him the Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research fellowship from the AvH Foundation. Poulin also received the Graduate Assurance in Area of National Need Fellowship for the Department of Education in Atlanta, Georgia.

His mother, Margray Poulin, has observed his defining qualities and development first-hand over the years.

“Of course, we are very proud of Remy for earning his PhD, but we are also impressed with his ability to set goals for himself and to step out of his comfort zone to realize those goals,” said Mrs. Poulin. “We are proud that he is independent, thoughtful, well-informed and not afraid to embrace the unknown.”

Dr. Poulin’s work has appeared in 13 publications, including his most recent in October 2021. His research is focused on understanding the chemical landscape of phytoplankton interactions. Additional projects aim to utilize compounds released by phytoplankton to combat malaria and neglected tropical diseases caused by parasites that share evolutionary links to phytoplankton.

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