Catching up with...Brian Cohen

Publication Date

Science fiction and fantasy are perfect escapes at the end of a day immersed in biochemistry. Just ask Brian Cohen, whose favorite diversions include books like “The Dresden Files,” podcasts like “Welcome to Nightvale” and TV series like “The Wheel of Time.” A fan of Harry Dresden, the central character of Jim Butcher’s series, Cohen admires the complex and well-meaning human wizard who struggles to stay out of the fray when he meets someone who needs his help. Cohen, who has been training in karate for the past 13 years, recently earned his fourth-degree black belt.

Cohen and his wife, Amy, have two kids. Justin ’20 majored in economics with an organizing theme major in data analytics. Fresh off a master’s in data science from the University at Albany, he works for Price Waterhouse Cooper. Daughter Rosie is a junior at Clark University majoring in history focusing on museum science.

Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen, who has been training in karate for the past 13 years, recently earned his fourth-degree black belt.

A regular at athletic events, hockey games in particular, he and Justin may hold a record as the farthest-traveled hockey fans. In 2019 they took a six-day tour of Europe to watch Union alumni playing as pros in Germany, Sweden and Norway.

Cohen, a senior lecturer of biology and co-director of Biochemistry, joined the College in 2003.

FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING:

Weather Channel. It takes me a while to figure out what to wear so I need to know that first.

ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES:

There are a lot of answers to this question; some are more embarrassing than others (like “Battlefield Earth” by L Ron Hubbard). One of the better books I’ve read more than once is “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher. I love “The Dresden Files” series. Harry Dresden is one of my favorite characters. I’ve even cosplayed as him!

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED:

“Anyone you talk to for more than 30 seconds can teach you something if you are open to listening to them.” I got that advice from my youth group advisor in high school and it has stuck with me all of these years later.

FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS:

Although I am sure many would expect me to pick Messa Rink (and I have had some great times there) I have to go with my research lab. Time spent working with students in my lab has been my most rewarding experience at Union.

GO-TO BREAKFAST:

Egg white omelet with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. I eat this six days a week. (On the seventh day he eats pancakes.)

NETFLIX OR AMAZON:

Amazon. There are so many great original series. My favorites include two series I am watching now (“The Wheel of Time” and “The Expanse”) but also “Hunters,” “Jack Ryan,” “Man in the High Castle,” “Hanna,” “Good Omens,” and “The Boys.” Okay, so I watch a lot of TV.

FAVORITE PODCAST:

“Welcome to Nightvale.” My daughter introduced me to it. It’s weird. There’s no other way to describe it.

ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD:

I wish I had basic carpentry skills. I would love to be able to build a treehouse but I can’t even build a birdhouse.

ANOTHER SUBJECT YOU WISH YOU COULD TEACH:

I would love to teach a course based on the book “Ender’s Game.” I was a double major in college – natural science (essentially biochemistry) and history of government (essentially history/political science ID). “Ender’s Game” covers all of that: political theory, xenobiology, foreign policy, ethics of war. It’s such a deep book. The movie version (as is true in most cases) doesn’t do it justice.

MOST CREATIVE EXCUSE YOU HEARD FOR A LATE ASSIGNMENT:

“Sorry, it was a No Bones day.” If you haven’t seen Noodles the Pug on TikTok (www.tiktok.com/@jongraz) you are missing out; the dog is adorable. On “No Bones” days you are supposed to take it easy. I guess the student took that to heart.