BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When the state shut down universities, and classes moved online, it turned many campuses into ghost towns. Since class only take up a couple of hours a day, students left in the dorms have had to improvise to stay busy.
“It’s empty, but it doesn’t feel empty to me,” said Nick Sargent Johnson.
Nick, like 115 other students, is stuck at Southern University.
“My project is pretty much done,” he said. “It was on nitrogen functionalization of carbon nano-tubes.”
His research comes from burnt coconut shells.
“Chemistry really took over my life in a way I never expected,” he explained.
But with his lab on lockdown, the walls of his dorm closing in, and weeks of free time, what is a material scientist to do?
“There is an art to science. Just like there is a science to art," he said. "Everything is elements. Skin. The air we breathe to the instruments we play.
Along with his love for chemistry, this scientist grew up on the jazz scene of Chicago. He’s using this down-time to go back to his roots, merging science and art to record jazz in a studio he’s built in his dorm.
“In some of these areas you can bend the rules and use theory to guide you - to new exploration finding new laws," he said. “This time where we get to slow down, kind of change our way of thinking, our patterns. it opens up the door to that.”
A discovery you won’t find in any lab, but it’s just another lesson in the odd spring semester of 2020.
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