The Eckerd Way: Combining Research, Service, and Fun

Journalist: Trish Schranck | Editor: Anjali Boyd | Photographer & Videographer: Margaret Balliet

Daniel Chapman ’17 is one busy guy. From conducting research in the Chemistry lab to volunteering at the Office of Service Learning, Chapman is living proof that time management really is the key to a successful life at Eckerd.

During his time in lab, Chapman enjoys the hands-on class work and intimacy of Eckerd’s small class sizes… and occasionally provoking his favorite professor into an argument on the superiority of CrossFit over powerlifting. Dr. Joe Larkin, a diehard power lifting chemistry professor, is notorious across campus for being extremely passionate about three things in life: chemistry, diesel engines, and lifting. Chapman, a biochemistry major, appreciates his professor’s enthusiasm for the subject as well as the real-world applications of the concepts covered in class.

“I had him for Physical Chemistry,” said Chapman. “ …somehow he could relate entropy to his diesel engine and how it affects his squat.” However, despite his appreciation for Dr. Larkin’s diesel-fueled passion, Chapman himself is drawn to a more abstract side of science known as the science of cognition. This new bridge between chemistry and psychology, alternatively termed “neuropsychology,” aims to “determine what consciousness is and how it physically manifests itself” according to Chapman. When he arrives at Georgetown Univeristy for graduate school in the fall of 2017, he plans to continue his research in this emerging field. And looking even further ahead to his own possible contributions to the field of neuropsychology, Chapman hopes to become an insightful part of this growing movement and to contribute to medicines’ current knowledge of how consciousness physically manifests itself.

Aside from chemistry and consciousness, service is also a major part of Chapman’s life at Eckerd. He has been volunteering in the Office of Service-Learning since September of his freshman year. During that time, he has gotten the Eckerd community involved in a program called Dive for Debris, an ocean and beach clean-up initiative to encourage students to remove trash from above and below the surface; helped plan Eckerd’s own Hunger banquets, which were a triad of informational lunches focused on world hunger and modeled after the Oxfam Hunger banquets; and co-founded the Scientific Outreach club (SOC) geared specifically toward community engagement in science.

Additionally, Chapman teamed up with Dr. Ronald Porter, the Director of the Office of Service-Learning, this year to create and host a College Program Series (CPS) event titled, “Environmental Justice.” The event worked to shed light on how a person’s socioeconomic class can determine whether they’re eating rice and beans for dinner or a juicy piece of steak, which their simulation used to symbolize larger problems of resource acquirement across various classes.

Another component of Chapman’s service work at Eckerd includes his membership to the Eckerd College Emergency Response Team (EC-ERT). The student-led team works to both professionally prepare team members for medical treatments of all shapes and sizes and to prevent the Eckerd community from having to rely solely on off-campus medical services, such as an emergency room or nearby hospital. Chapman’s inclusion on the team has positively impacted his life by not only preparing him for his future work in the medical field, but also for allowing him to assist others in times of physical trauma and distress.

Of course, Eckerd isn’t all work all the time. One of Chapman’s favorite memories at Eckerd is of the Cowboys and Indians party he attended his freshman year. While the theme has since been dismissed due to controversial content, Chapman remarks that what he remembers most about the party was the game played: a high-stakes, all-out water balloon war. “I’m not trying to politicize this, but I had so much fun going out on a Saturday night and just being a child and throwing water balloons at everyone.” Said Chapman.

As he wraps up his final year at Eckerd, Daniel has a few pieces of wisdom for the underclassmen following in his footsteps:

“Go to class.” Chapman attributes much of his success at Eckerd to the fact that he had never missed a class until this year, and even then his absences were due to a conference invitation and job interview.

“Do things that you want to do and not what you think your employer will want you to do.” Now that doesn’t mean don’t fulfill your major’s requirements, but for Chapman, his involvement in projects like Dive for Debris were personal projects he was simply invested in himself. “The environment has nothing to do with neuroscience.” He notes. “But if you can show people you’re passionate about something and show them why you did something instead of “here look I did this because this is what you want,” what you did goes a lot further than you’d think.”

Take these years for yourself. Finally, Chapman encourages everyone to work hard and to learn a lot in class, but he also recommends taking some time to grow and learn more about yourself. After all, college, especially at Eckerd, is about so much more than quizzes and homework; it’s the beginning of adulthood, an exploration in interests and values, and the chance to make lasting memories with life long friends. “You’re never going to have these four years back, so enjoy it.”