Missouri State University
Preston Clubb

Preston Clubb

  • Major: Chemistry
  • Second Major: Chemistry
  • High School: Glendale High School
  • Hometown: Springfield

Discovering the magic of chemistry

Whether in the lab or in the classroom, Preston Clubb wants to help people realize the potential of environmental chemistry.

Preston Clubb was unsure of what career he wanted to pursue.

That is, until he took his first chemistry class.

In a dual credit course, his instructor demonstrated the Briggs-Rauscher reaction, also known as ‘the oscillating clock.’

Three solutions are mixed, resulting in a change of color that oscillates between clear, amber and violet.

In the three to five minutes that the reaction took place, Clubb became enchanted.

“I thought, ‘That’s some magic, I want to know more about that,’” Clubb said.

Motivated by the thrill of the discovery process and a passion for helping others, he set his sights on environmental management.

“I’d like to help with natural resource management, pollution reduction, cleanup management, stuff like that,” Clubb said.

Forging a foundation for environmental stewardship

In 2022, Clubb received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry with an emphasis in environmental chemistry and a minor in physics from Missouri State University.

As a Springfield-native, Clubb chose Missouri State for its location and low cost of education.

Coming from a two-year community college, he was able to transfer his college credit seamlessly.

“The transferring of credits worked beautifully,” Clubb said. “I didn’t have to start completely over.”

His work in the lab provides him with a strong foundation for future research and professional endeavors.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Clubb received the Environmental Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Outstanding Environmental Chemistry Student Award from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.

Always curious, Clubb has leaned on the support of department faculty and collaborators in his research — leading to the co-authorship of two publications with several more submitted for peer-review.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Rico has given me in his lab, and the professors in the department for answering my many questions,” said Clubb upon receiving the award from ACS.

Making chemistry accessible for everyone

Clubb has continued his research and education at Missouri State. He’s pursuing a master's degree in chemistry with an emphasis in environmental chemistry.

While studying for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Clubb has been able to explore his interest in environmental science and tailor his education to prepare him for his future career.

“I’ve taken courses in geology and public relations. Right now, I’m in an agriculture class,” explained Clubb.

He has spent nearly three of his years at MSU in Dr. Rico’s lab developing protocols and researching the effects of industrial pollutants on field crops.

This research will translate into real-world knowledge of the field of environmental management.

His work has extended far beyond Missouri State.

“I get to collaborate with people from international institutions in China and Pakistan and across the continental United States,” said Clubb.

As a graduate teaching assistant, Clubb teaches three undergraduate, entry-level lab courses.

While he has the choice to teach higher-level courses, he has developed a fondness for sharing the magic he experienced when first introduced to chemistry.

“I want to find new ways for chemistry to be a life choice for everybody.”

In his courses, he teaches students of many backgrounds. From traditional freshmen to working adults with families.

“Even if they’re not a chemistry major, they still use it in their everyday lives. So, I like teaching the entry-level labs. I have my own twist on it.”

His experience in the classroom and the collaboration of research has allowed him to develop the skills needed to communicate complex topics to people with a variety of disciplines, a vital aspect of environmental management.

“I can explain things to (people) like why we need to do this at their property or home or business,” Club said.

Clubb shared that his appreciation for teaching has made him consider the field of education as well.

“It sort of all rolls into one. I like the atmosphere and I like helping people. That’s why it’s important to me.”

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