Robert 'Bob' Bouchard's research is "perched between pure science and applied science."

The work world for Robert "Bob" Bouchard ’69 ranges from the infinitesimally small to the astronomically large, from the gene research he conducts at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center to the fantastic world he has created for his as-yet uncompleted science fiction opus, Ayelyethskya.

After earning a doctorate in biology from the University of Chicago, Bouchard spent several years as a college professor before determining that research was his true calling. He entered the field of molecular biology early on and has witnessed its development from pure science to applied science in the fields of archeology, forensics and other areas.

Bouchard’s research in plant transformation involves manipulating soybean DNA to encourage the development of genetically altered DNA that will make future crops resistant to parasites. His research, he says, “is perched between pure science and applied science.” DNA research has already added tremendously to our understanding of genetics and evolution, but there is much that we are just beginning to understand, he adds.

While Bouchard’s weekdays are spent doing arcane technical manipulations in the science laboratory, on weekends he gives his imagination free rein. In the early 1990s, he began to write a novel set in the "somewhat remote future" on the planet of Ayelyethskya, where beings from all over the universe must learn to coexist. He is now finishing off the final chapters before beginning a massive rewrite of the two- to three-volume novel.

But readers can already find Bouchard’s name on the fiction shelves.

He co-authored the 1997 novel Count Scar with his wife, Constance Brittain Bouchard, a medieval historian (who writes as C. Dale Brittain). Set in a fictional world resembling 13th-century southwestern France, Count Scar is told in alternating chapters voiced by its two main characters: the nobleman Galoran (written by Constance) and his reluctant spiritual advisor, Melchior (Bob’s chapters), a member of a priestly order devoted to the study of magic.

Posted Winter 2008