Chemistry Alumnus’ Enthusiasm for Research Began at UCF

Dr. Allyn BriceDr. Allyn Brice, ’04, discovered his infatuation with research in the UCF Chemistry Department. During his last three years at UCF, Dr. Brice spent most of his time doing research in polymer synthesis with the Chemistry Department chair, Dr. Kevin Belfield. Dr. Brice’s research on organic synthesis was even included in one of Dr. Belfield’s published articles. While Dr. Brice worked alongside graduate students in UCF’s research lab, he was inspired to apply for graduate school.

Dr. Brice earned his Ph.D. at Clemson University, studying in the Chemistry Department’s research driven program. Today, Dr. Brice is a postdoc at the University of Connecticut’s Molecular and Cell Biology department. He explained that this is the first time he has worked in a department other than chemistry, and it’s been an enlightening experience. His postdoctoral research has led him to studies combining virology and computational chemistry.

“There are thousands of known viruses, and hundreds that are infectious to humans. Most viruses are able to evolve rapidly. That may freak some people out, but I get excited thinking of all the unanswered questions we can explore.” said Dr. Brice.

Dr. Brice went on to describe his time at UCF, his current job, and share advice to current student.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

UCF has excellent science and engineering programs, as well as the popular forensic science program within the chemistry department. It seemed that I would have opportunities in many fields related to chemistry.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

I was treasurer of the UCF student affiliated American Chemical Society (SAACS) chapter, and went to an ACS conference. I also frequently played intramural tennis. So many people came out to play, and you could always find someone at your skill level. Good times.

What is your best UCF memory?

There weren’t many chemistry majors, but the few of us were all taking the same classes. We crammed for exams together and pulled all-nighters. The camaraderie that formed amongst us made the difficult courses more fun.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Working with computers all day is a dream for me. Also, both sides of my job, simulations and biochemistry, get me fired up and excited. Debugging a program that isn’t working properly is like solving a puzzle. Many times I can’t leave my desk chair until I discover the error in a script. At the same time, reading literature on biochemical systems that aren’t completely understood drives me to start new projects. In the end, I guess I just love problem solving.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

After UCF I spent a semester in Tokyo, attending school to learn the Japanese language and culture. The experience was amazing, and I strongly recommend all undergraduates study abroad. Living in another country among people of another culture will make you appreciate that culture and your own.

Dr. Brice went on to answer some fun questions to help us get to know him better.

What do you do for fun?

Shoot pool with friends in a dive bar while nursing an IPA.

What is the last book you read?

A science fiction novel by Charles Stross called “glasshouse”. I’m the stereotypical science geek.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl. Watching the sunrise is overrated.

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