Charles Cochran - Fresno State University

Charles Cochran smiling in front of a testing machine

Most students come to college, take classes, graduate and hope to get a job and begin their career. Charles Cochran’s returned to college after a successful career rubbing elbows with the legends of blues and rock. Charles’ first career was as a concert lighting engineer where he designed and implemented state-of-the-art lighting technologies in support of live concerts for artists and bands that included Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, the Eagles, and Neil Diamond.

After 20 years of living on the road, Charles decided he wanted a less hectic life. He got married, had a child, and moved back to his hometown of Visalia where he enrolled in a local community college (College of the Sequoias). A soils class at the community college resonated with him, and he decided to transfer to Fresno State as a Plant Science major.

Professors are often looking for talented and bright students to help with their projects, and as it happened, Dr. Dave Goorahoo recognized this in Charles and asked him to join his lab five days after graduating. As one might guess, Charles has an affinity for electronics and instruments, so he easily learned how to use and troubleshoot a variety of instruments being used in the lab for the soils and irrigation projects.

If Charles has any regrets, it is that he did not learn earlier that research was a viable career for students in plant sciences. He observed that being involved and paid to work as a student researcher in your field of study provides an additional focus and is not a “throw away” work environment. Charles will apply to a Master’s program at Fresno and will definitely seek a research career once he graduates.