Chris Mocella '01
“ My fondest memory is senior year! ”
How has Washington College contributed to the person you are?
A succession of extremely fortunate events led me to be able to carry on the forged legacy of John Conkling '65, professor of chemistry, and before him John McLain '37, chemistry professor and president of Washington College. I came to Washington College in 1997, already knowing that I would pursue chemistry, and that spring joined the Theta Chi fraternity. One of the senior brothers, who is still a good friend, was at the time a research fellow for Prof. Conkling and introduced me. As part of my "catering" career at WC, I was a summer conference liaison over the summer of 1999, working to support Prof. Conkling's summer pyrotechnic seminars. Having built a relationship, I began as Prof. Conkling's research fellow during my junior year, studying energetic materials and pyrotechnics, a discipline Prof. Conkling had taken up from Prof. McLain! I completed both my summer research and senior thesis with Prof. Conkling and continued to work with him on the summer pyrotechnic seminars at WC through 2009, even as I pursued my chemistry career, now as a civil servant and chemist with the U.S. government. When it was time for the second edition of Prof. Conkling's "Chemistry of Pyrotechnics" book to be written, I was humbled to be asked to be his co-author. Prof. Conkling has "passed the torch" of his and Prof. McLain's pyrotechnics legacy to me, as I work on the third edition of the text. All of the incredible, fortuitous, and auspicious opportunities afforded me at Washington College have not only led to developing my own legacy, but being able to, at least in a small way, carry on that of the giants of chemistry at my alma mater. (That, and of course, meeting the woman who would eventually become my lovely wife, also a WC alum!)
If you were a Washington College student today, what would you be sure to pursue or take advantage of?
More events and opportunities out of my comfort zone, both academic and social. There are a lot of paths to take around campus and around town, and there's no reason not to walk several at the same time!
Activities I was involved in:
Cater Society of Junior Fellows
Omicron Delta Kappa
Order of Omega