Inside USD

Making Connections

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who doesn’t remember those popular, sometimes silly educational videos shown in grade school about science? From “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” a favorite to many, to BBC’s “Connections,” these programs exposed students to many areas of science. The shows may not have been appealing to everyone, but to Joseph Provost, PhD, they were life changing.

Provost, a biochemist, recently joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of San Diego as a professor and research scientist.

“Connections,” created by James Burke, made a large impact on Provost as a child. After seeing the series, Provost was inspired to go into the field of science.

“Connections” looked at how certain discoveries, world events, and scientific achievements were interconnected and together brought about advancements in modern technology. Provost loved to  look into the different details, events, individual points in history and small discoveries and see how they came together in order to form a bigger discovery.

“You get to be a mechanic of the cells, see how the organism really works,” Provost stated with enthusiasm.

Provost’s personal interests seem to fit into the same mold. He enjoys creating stained glass works of art. He has been creating these pieces for 14 years and believes that being able to see a piece go from separate pieces of glass to a wonderful artistic creation mirrors the idea of how each small connection forms a greater work of art.

Currently, Provost is also writing a textbook called The Science of Food and Cooking. The book looks into the scientific aspects of food and cooking. He will be comparing the actual mechanics of it all — how each step, from growing crops to cooking meals, changes the chemistry of food to create what we would think of just as a meal. This book will be looking deeper into the processes and effects that cooking and agriculture have on food. This will also include the process of aging cheese and creating wine, which just so happens to be another one of Provost’s personal hobbies. He enjoys making his own cheese and wine at home.

Provost enjoys being able to share the passion he has for science and the importance of making connections with his students. Provost has tried owning his own biotechnology companies in the past, but he made it clear that “not having undergrads to teach and do research in the lab with is not nearly as fun.”

His love for teaching and being able to really connect with his students is what he values most. Because of this, he has the opportunity to become a connection for the great discoveries that may come of teaching his students and his own research.

— Mallory Barnum ‘14

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