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Reported by Andrew Scot Bolsinger
A 25-year-old Jamaican who already has earned a doctorate in chemistry will add to his growing academic accomplishments as one of only five chosen for a post-doctoral fellowship at the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Like many of his fellow Jamaicans, Peter Nelson used education to improve a childhood of poverty. But few have so quickly earned the accolades Nelson has, which include a Master’s degree in philosophy and his Ph.D from the University of the West Indies.
Nelson was just one of five selected from 280 applicants from around the world, according to published reports.
“It was very competitive to get into this institute because they told me they had 280 applications for the five positions, and so it was really tough on them to decide. But one of the things that helped me to get in was the papers I published in international journals,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Nelson, who hails from St. Thomas, has spent his young life destroying stereotypes, having risen from an impoverished community, having attended a nontraditional high school, and having been raised by a single mother who worked as a domestic helper.
Nelson’s research has already earned international recognition, according to the Atlanta Black Star.
“Already he has amassed seven publications in international journals, including the Journal of Molecular Structure, the Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, Dalton Transactions and the International Journal of Molecular Sciences,” the paper reported.
In August 2010, he presented a paper on the Phase Behaviors of Zinc Carboxylates. In August 2012, Nelson presented on the Molecular and Lattice Structures of Sodium(I) Carboxylates at the American Chemical Society Conference in Philadelphia. He has also made presentations in the Departments of Chemistry at Mona and at St Augustine in Trinidad.
He is working on two manuscripts for publication, he said, while finishing his degrees much earlier than the recommended time.
“It was stressful, more mentally than physically, because you can’t get an M.Phil. or Ph.D. in science unless what you have discovered is totally new because there has to be novelty about it,” he told the Sunday Observer.
“I did a lot of studies because I realized time is critical for pure and applied science students, and there is no pure and applied person who parties a lot and does well. It just doesn’t happen, especially those doing chemistry as the pass rate in some of our courses is about 26 percent, and so you want to get into that 26 percent,” he said.