September 18, 2023

Q&A with Jean-Philippe (J.P.) Gourdine, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Jean-Philippe (J.P.) Gourdine’s research in glycomics brings exciting opportunities for students, and allows strong connections to data science and health studies.

When and how did you develop an interest in your field?

From my early years in Guadeloupe (French Caribbean), during my time in middle school, I found myself captivated by the realm of biochemistry. I uncovered the intricate connection between the hues and scents of plants and fruits, and the molecules that orchestrated such phenomena. The world of laboratories beckoned to me as I learned about fermentation. At age 10, I embarked on an ambitious (but unsuccessful) endeavor, to initiate alcoholic fermentation within the confines of my home, employing yeast and stale bread! I never thought I would have traveled the world hopping from labs from the French Caribbean, Grenoble in France, London (UK), Atlanta (GA) and now Portland (OR) with more successful experiments this time!

What excites you most about joining the L&C community?

I am excited about collaborative work with students and fellow scholars hailing from diverse fields, including the humanities. Science finds its origins entwined with philosophy; for instance, the very notion of atoms was first conceived by the minds of Pre-Socratic philosophers like Democritus. L&C offers a great opportunity to mix chemistry and culture. Last year, I worked with a couple of biochemistry students for Black History Month, for which they created posters related to the biochemistry of hair texture and human migration from Africa (many thanks to Joann Zhang, Dr. Barb Balko, Dr. Tamily Weissman, and Parvaneh Abbaspour). I am also eager to start my own lab (a dream come true!) and have students participating in microbiome related research.

What kind of hobbies or special activities do you enjoy outside of work?

As a parent to two young daughters, ages three and six, the course of my outside work activities often resonates with their youthful spirits: visits to OMSI, explorations of parks, and easy hikes on the Oregon coast. I enjoy tennis-related sports such as ping-pong and pickleball, the latter I discovered thanks to the college community (many thanks to Jimmy Chau and Dr. Anne Bentley!). I love gardening, going to jazz and hip-hop concerts (time and children allowing!).