Science by day, music by night: a day in the life of Colby Masse

Colby takes a break from learning and poses for a shot at the National ACS Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Isabella Gentile, Features Editor

A 5:30 a.m. wake-up and trek from Willow to the pool is not a usual activity for most students. However, this is how junior Colby Masse’s day usually starts off, as he makes his way to the Rec Center to lifeguard from 6 to 8 a.m. He often gets a front row seat to RWU Swim Team practices, ROTC training, or the locals during free swim. On his days off, Masse still finds himself being an early riser, as he wakes up in advance to study and make sure all of his work is finished.

 Music is another component that monopolizes a portion of Masse’s day. Almost daily, he can be found going to Musicians’ Guild meetings, attending music classes, and going to the Jam Room in North Campus. He also practices songs constantly with his band, “Small Talk,” which performs at school events and local venues both in Bristol and now Newport as well.

 School is extremely important to him, but music plays a monumental role in Masse’s life both within and outside of RWU. He expressed this by saying, “To a certain extent, my love for music shapes a lot of my lifestyle at RWU. It was through music that I made a lot of my better friends, so I spend at least a few hours a day focusing on it.” He claimed that he could probably not go a day without being involved with music in some capacity.


Masse interestingly balances a very different major and minor; he majors in biochemistry with a music minor. He originally chose biochemistry because he wanted to dive into both subjects and ended up adding a music minor because he is so passionate about it.

Regarding the music addition, he said, “I have always been told to do what I love so that is exactly what I am doing now.” Essentially, Masse can be found conducting science experiments by day and playing guitar by night.

In terms of daily employment, Masse can be found working in the RWU lab through his job with Brown University, which is funded by the NASA Rhode Island Space Consortium. He currently researches the degradation of chlorofluorocarbons (a class of chemicals responsible for the breakdown of the ozone layer and a contributor to climate change) in ocean sediment. He acknowledges that climate change is an urgent issue in society, and that these chemicals are partially responsible for it; unfortunately, they can last up to hundreds of years in the environment. Masse’s job is to “see how the CFC’s breakdown process occurs in the environment, what it is reacting with, and how the reaction could potentially be sped up.”

Due to his major and job responsibilities, one might discover Masse while he is attending events such as the Bridgewater State Research Symposium or the National American Chemical Society Convention, where he was just recently in New Orleans, Louisiana. He values his job as a whole greatly, not only because it is associated with these opportunities, but because it allows him “to interact with some amazing and very talented professors and students.” He also has the ability to create his own schedule as long as a lab is free and he has a lab partner to conduct research with. 

Finding Colby during his favorite part of the day would involve any time where he gets to interact with his friends and classmates. This time is important to him.

“It allows me to see what others are involved in and it also pushes me to try new things (like intramural soccer) that I would have never thought to try on my own,” Masse said. 

In terms of how he spends time during the day prepping for life after RWU, he explores the options for physician assistant graduate programs to determine what they require for prerequisites. Considering there are some required classes for the program outside of his major, such as anatomy, statistics, and psychology, Masse works to incorporate these into his curriculum here. 

The end of a normal day for Masse almost always includes some down time. He stressed its importance, saying, “After a long day of work and sometimes a long night of homework, it is crucial for me to have some time to just sit down and reflect on the day.” This relaxation time allows Masse to be refreshed for his next early walk to the pool and busy day.