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Andrew Schafer, Ph.D.
B.S. Chemistry w/ Chemical Physics Concentration
JCU, 2009


I am very thankful for the education I received at John Carroll University, but especially for the preparation and intense learning environment afforded by the JCU chemistry faculty. The professors make practical education and experience their top priority. My four years as an undergraduate readily prepared me with the requisite knowledge for success in my graduate studies and well as the critical thinking skills necessary to excel at overcoming the challenges I’ve faced since then.

I knew the department focused on preparing its students well when I took general chemistry as a freshman. I won’t forget talking to Dr. Waner after class one day when he heard that I was considering a major in chemistry. It surprised me that a professor cared about what a student taking an introductory course “might” do, and that sealed my decision to major in chemistry.

As I continued to take classes in the chemistry curriculum, the professors challenged me in class and opened up opportunities for me to intern over summer breaks at local companies such as Sherwin-Williams and MISCO Refractometer. This real industrial experience was critical to my professional development. I worked for both companies through different summers and during the school year as well as received full time employment offers after graduation.

After working for those two companies, I was convinced I was going to enter the workforce after graduation. However, after really enjoying my experience as a TA in Dr. Kwan’s labs, I decided to consider graduate school and a career as a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution just like JCU. The department encouraged me to look into these opportunities, and provided funding to do undergraduate research, attend the 2009 Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and attend a graduate school fair at Purdue University.

I chose to enroll at The Ohio State University and pursue a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry. JCU prepared me incredibly well for that challenge. I have several publications in high impact journals and was awarded a University Fellowship during my studies as well as travel awards to attend national ACS meetings. My achievements as a graduate student are a testament to the outstanding preparation afforded by the JCU chemistry faculty.

After finishing my Ph.D., I pursued postdoctoral research studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and continued to rely on the skills I learned at JCU to be successful. After Emory, I struggled to choose between academia and industry for my career, as I loved to teach like my JCU professors do but also enjoy working at the bench. Ultimately, I found the best of both worlds in my current industrial position at Boulder Scientific Company near Denver, Colorado. I get to continue to work at the bench making molecules for our customers but I also lead and teach other chemists in my group. It has been a perfect professional match for me and none of it would have been possible without the education I received in the chemistry department at JCU.