After undergoing changes in the science department, Maryville College needed to figure out a way to revamp its programs to attract new incoming students, as well as provide a stable base for current students. One way was to introduce Dr. Nathan Duncan, visiting assistant professor of chemistry, to the staff.
Native Texan, Duncan obtained his undergraduate degree from Baylor University, and then later obtained his doctorate in 2009 from the same university. Prior to joining the MC community, Duncan was working for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on chemical synthesis, used for removing radiation from waste produced during the Cold War era.
While at Oak Ridge, Duncan soon realized that he missed the academic environment that colleges and universities provided. Loving the area, once a position became available at Maryville, he “simply had to have it.” Between undergraduate and doctorate schooling, Duncan worked for his uncle in Washington, D.C. as a private investigator. He soon realized that investigating wasn’t his passion. He soon found love in the research and advising that having a doctorate could provide.
Although he is no longer at the national lab, Duncan fulfills his interest for research by assisting with senior thesis studies, along with small projects over the summer and by submitting to a variety of publications. One of his current ambitions is to be able to introduce MC students into the Oak Ridge lab programs for vital research and development.
However, Duncan is much more than a chemistry professor at MC and a researcher. For starters, he brews his own beer and has done for the past nine years. Even with his extensive experience the years brewing have given him, he does not enter competitions, but is always trying new things to improve upon his recipes. Brewing beer was an endeavor that started in his undergraduate days at Baylor.
His roommate put forth the idea and the hobby, Duncan said, has “stuck with ever since.” Like all aspiring beer makers, he said that his first batch was undrinkable. Duncan was undaunted by this failed attempt, and he said that he proceeded to brew as much as he could after that.
Now, with nine years under his belt, Duncan is trying something radical: adding pumpkin to the mix in order to make his version of a fall beer. However, Duncan said his favorite has to be his rendition of an Oktoberfest lager that he produced last year is his makeshift turkey broiler on the back porch of his house.
In addition to enjoying at-home beer production, Duncan is also an avid adventurer in the Smoky Mountains, and a volunteer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He enjoys fly-fishing, backpacking, hiking and even the occasional park research. After a long week of work, he said it is not uncommon to find him by rivers fly-fishing or hiking trails in the mountains.
Aside from mountainous activities, Duncan enjoyed experimenting with creating his own fireworks last July. He urges all personal firework constructors to remember one piece of advice: make sure that your rockets always fire straight upwards. Overall, Duncan is both a unique and energetic installment to the Sutton community.
Not only is Duncan a man of great experience and knowledge in the chemistry field, but also an actual human being, with real passions and hobbies. From beer brewing to enjoying the mountains, Duncan is a man of many adventures.