Nicholls chemistry student to study permafrost in Siberia

Alexandra Aucoin 
(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls chemistry student will spend her summer in Russia studying ancient soil and sediment as part of a federal research mission.

Alexandra Aucoin, a junior from Morgan City, is one of four undergraduate students taking part in the International Research Experience for Students (IRES), hosted by the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“I’m excited to be a part of this opportunity,” Aucoin said. “Nicholls is such a small school in a big world. I can’t wait to go somewhere completely different and show how good of a school we are.”

A 3-year project that began in 2016, IRES gives undergraduate students the chance to conduct research on unique 5,000- to 3-million-year-old permafrost sediment samples in the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil Sciences under the supervision of Russian and U.S. mentors.

Aucoin, who will leave for Siberia on June 6 for the six-week trip, will bring back her what she learned to use for additional research in the Gulf of Mexico with Nicholls professors.

“Our chemistry graduates change the world in real ways,” said Dr. Chadwick Young, department head of physical sciences. “It changed my life when I did my undergraduate research. I want that for her. I think this experience will give her an entirely new perspective on the work she can do.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

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