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Distinguished Alumni Lecturers

Distinguished Alumni Lecturers

A former student from the Department of Chemistry at UMSL delivers this annual lecture, which is followed by a reception. This forms part of the regular departmental seminar program and is typically; scheduled for the first Monday in May as the final seminar of the academic year. The lecture follows presentation of the Annual Departmental Awards

#37 2024

Dr. Robert A. Stockland Jr (PhD 1999)

Robert was an undergraduate chemistry student at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota in 1993 when he received an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Fellowship to spend the summer doing research at UMSL. He did so with Professor Gordon Anderson and they had a productive collaborative relationship such that in 1994, when he received his BS degree, he had been accepted into our PhD program. He graduated in 1999, after another most successful collaboration in which he and Anderson published 15 articles together. As a graduate student here, he was General Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator  He then did postdoctoral research with Professor Richard F. Jordan at the University of Chicago and in 2000 accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA where he is now Professor of Chemistry. His career at Bucknell has been outstanding. He has worked in research with many undergraduates on organic transformations, microwave synthesis, bioorganometallics and green chemistry. Their work has been most productive, resulting in almost 30 publications and Robert is a successful author of chemistry books.

#36 2023

Justyce J. Jedlicka (BS 2009)

Justyce worked when she was a student at UMSL in cosmetics chemistry with Chemia Corporation as a perfumer and later as a Formulation Chemist. After graduation she went to work for Sigma-Aldrich in St. Louis in 2010, spending two years as a Chemist, then a year as a Technical Marketing Specialist before becoming Tactical Marketing Manager, North America Consumer Products. In 2015 Merck KGaA acquired Sigma-Aldrich and combined it with Millipore Corporation, which it had acquired in 2010, and combined them to form MilliporeSigma. Justyce started work there in 2016, spending two years as Program Marketing Manager-Food & Beverages, Cannabis Testing, Flavor & Fragrances, and Cosmetics. She spent a further two years as Regional Director-Program Marketing, Industrial & Testing prior to assuming her current position as Food and Beverage Regulatory Liaison. During this period, she obtained her Professional MBA degree from UMSL (2018). She has been active in the St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists since 2005 and served in many roles including Chapter Chair twice. She currently serves as the Chair and Executive Board Member of the food science section of American Council of Independent Labs, a board member of the Independent Laboratories Institute, member of the International Association of Food Protection, International Society of Beverage Technologists, AOAC International and of the American Chemical Society.

#35 2022

Sean D. Dingman (BS 1994)

Sean holds a PhD degree from Washington University. As an undergraduate student at UMSL he did research with Keith Stine on enantiomeric and racemic monolayers using fluorescence microscopy and after graduation completed a PhD in materials chemistry with William Buhro at Washington University in St. Louis where he studied the chemical synthesis of semiconductor nanostructures.  He is currently the Senior Technical Service Specialist with OxyChem's isocyanurate business in St. Louis, and has spent time with the Sigma Aldrich Hitech Division, with BASF and the Mississippi Lime Company.  He has also taught in the chemistry departments at UMSL and WU-STL.  Sean was a member of the initial group that developed the Chemistry Alumni Council, serving as the Owner of the UMSL Chemistry Department Alumni Group on Linkedin. He continues as a member of the CAC and owner of the Linkedin group.

# 34 2021

Eric A. Bruton (BS 1997, PhD 2003)

Dr. Bruton studied hydrogen bonding interactions using single crystal crystallography with Lee Brammer for his PhD degree. He worked at Chemir Analytical Laboratories, Monsanto, Crosslink and Jost Chemical before joining Boeing’s Chemical Technology Group in Boeing Research and Technology in 2015. He has been an active member of the leadership of the St. Louis Section of the ACS, serving as Chair when the Section was honored with the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Medium-Large Section in 2012. Some of his earlier activities were with the Younger Chemists Committee, Career Counseling and in promoting ACS Leadership Development Courses. In 2017 Eric was elected Councilor for the St. Louis Section of the ACS to the national organization and is currently Chair of the Council Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs.

# 33 2020

Elizabeth (Betsy) Keath (BA 1978)

Dr. Keath holds a PhD in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry from Saint Louis University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the WU Infectious Diseases division in molecular medical mycology.  She was on the faculty at Saint Louis University (Department of Biology) and served in Ireland as a Scientific Programme Officer for the Science Foundation Ireland, and consultant for the Irish Cancer Society.  She is is Associate Professor of Medicine, Research Development Program Director in the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science, Washington University School of Medicine.  She served as a laboratory instructor in the Chemistry Department at UMSL from 1976-78 and in 1992 was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award by the UMSL Department of Biology.  She holds BA degrees from UMSL, Summa Cum Laude, in both chemistry and biology.

#32 2019

Martin E. Hayes (BS 1999)

Martin earned a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Mathematics, both Summa Cum Laude from UMSL in 1999. He did undergraduate research with Chris Spilling and then went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he obtained a PhD degree in Chemistry with Rick L. Danheiser. He is currently is employed by AbbVie in Worcester, MA as a Director, ADC Platform Strategy, Global Biologics Discovery.

#31 2018.

Yanina Levchinsky-Grimmond (BS 1997, MS 1999)

Yana is an Associate Director of Technology Transfer in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where she has held various positions in analytical sciences and GMP manufacturing process transferlogistics since 2002. After receiving the B.S degree in 1997, in 1999, she completed an   M.S.degree under the guidance of Janet Braddock-Wilking, who also advised her during 2 years of undergraduate research. Prior to Regeneron, Yana had a few brief stints as a validation consultant at Valicor associates,and as an R&D scientist at GEGlobal Research Center. She also interned with FDA while completing her MS thesis work. Yana and her husband Brian PhD,1999, have been based in the Albany, NY area since 2001. When not at work or traveling, Yana can most often be found pursuing various hiking and kayaking challenges in the mountains of the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.

#30 2017

Dennis P. Parazak (BS 1982, MS 1986, PhD 1996)

Dr. Parazak initially enrolled at Meramec Community College, eventually transferring to UMSL and obtaining his B.S. in Chemistry.  He joined Petrolite Corporation in 1982, and continued his education in the evenings at UMSL, obtaining his M.S in 1987 and in 1992 he resigned his position as Senior Chemist at Petrolite to enroll in the PhD program. He graduated in 1996 in Dr. Stine’s laboratory where he studied phase transitions of insoluble monolayers of enantiomeric fatty acid amino acid adducts. He spent 20 years as an ink chemist at Hewlett-Packard, first  in Corvallis, OR, and eventually in San Diego. He took an early retirement from HP and moved to Boulder, CO where he currently works for Ricoh USA doing Ink Quality Assurance work.

#29 2016

Michael J. Finkes (BS 1973, MS 1978)

After graduation and a year at a small pharmaceutical company Mike joined Monsanto in 1974 and spent 37 years until his retirement in 2010.  He was a synthetic organic chemist until 1989 and finished his career as a quality assurance specialist. While at Monsanto he was one of the first students to enroll in the part-time MS program. In 2005 he became a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and served as President  from 2014-2015.  During his two-year term as President, he also served on the Chancellor’s Council. Mike and his wife Linda, BA political science, have been very generous to the department, recently funding the Linda & Michael Finkes Scholarship in Chemistry and bequeathing a portion of their estate for future chemistry scholarships. 

#28 2015

Michael D. Groaning (BA 1995, MS 1997)

Mike, BA 1995, MS, 1997, is Associate Director CMC Regulatory Affairs at Endocyyte.  After completing his MS degree with Chris Spilling he received a PhD degree in 2000 with Professor Al Meyers at Colorado State University.  He then moved to the E.T.H. in Zurich to do postdoctoral research with Professor Erick Carreira.  After one year in Zurich he joined F. Hoffmann – La Roche in Basel.  In 2003 he moved back to the US with the Roche Colorado Corporation and after five years returned to Basil to complete his career with Roche with a one year assignment.  He joined Endocyte in 2008.

#27 2014

Katherine M. Block (BS 2001)

Katherine is a Senior Scientist at the Novartis Clinical Trial Center of Excellence at Genoptix Medical Laboratory, which is part of the Novartis Company, in San Diego.  After graduation and a stint at Pfizer in St. Louis, she received a PhD degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  Prior to joining Genoptix in 2012, she was a Senior Development Scientist and Technical Lead at Beckman Coulter in Orange County, CA

#26 2013

Kim S. Gorman (BA 1992)

Kim is President/Technical Leader at Paternity Testing Corporation in Columbia, MO.  When she was at UMSL she did research with Wes Harris and before completion of her degree she started work first at Washington University School of Medicine in the Human Gene Project and later with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department as a forensic DNA analyst.  In 1996 she formed her own company and has seen since seen much success.  In 2003, she was awarded one of the five Distinguished Alumni Awards given by the UMSL Alumni Association.

#25 2012

Dr. Stephen A. Kolodziej (BA 1987, PhD 1992)
Steve is an Associate Research Fellow at Pfizer, Inc., in St. Louis. After graduation from Rudi Winter's research group, he did postdoctoral work at Washington University School of Medicine and then joined Monsanto as a Research Associate. After just over one year he became Senior Research Investigator, Group Leader and Associate Fellow and finally Associate Fellow with the company as it morphed through Searle, Pharmacia into Pfizer. Like many of our current students, Steve transferred to UMSL from the St. Louis Community College and went on to great success. One of Steve's hobbies is music - he is the bass guitarist for the group Roofrockers.

# 24 2011

Dr. Elizabeth A. Amin (BA 1996, PhD 2002)
Dr. Amin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, She is also a member of the Graduate Faculty, Security Technologies Program and Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (BICB) Program and an Associate Fellow, Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for Advanced Computational Research. She did her doctoral work at UMSL with Bill Welsh and worked in industry before going into academia. Her research program focuses on designing countermeasures to biological and chemical warfare agents, specifically Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax) and organophosphate nerve gases such as sarin, soman, and VX. She also holds a doctorate in German from Washington University.

#23 2010

Dr. Barbara W. Brown (BA 1984)
Barbara W. Brown, O.D., FAAO, is Manager, Student and Special Services for the UMSL College of Optometry and is a partner at Overland Optical Family Eyecare. She is a 1988 alumna of the College and a received a BA degree in chemistry in 1984 from UMSL. She completed a graduate certificate from UMSL in 2005. She joined the Optometry Staff in November, 1999 after leaving a full-time optometric practice. She has ten years experience in fundraising with extensive work in Planned Giving and Capital Campaigns. During the past three years she has been a leader of the UMSL Chemistry Alumni Council.

#22 2009

Dr. Donald G. Hesse (BS 1984; Ph.D 1991)
Don is the owner of Veritas Analytical Services, but his day job is Vice-President of Information Technology at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

#21 2008

Dr. Timothy T. Wenzel (BS, 1978).
Tim is a Research Leader at Dow Chemical Co. in Midland MI. He completed a Ph.D degree at Cornell University and did postdoctoral work at UC-Berkeley. He spent several years at Union Carbide in Charleston WV which became a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Co. in 1999. 

#20 2007

Joseph P. Bono, (BS, 1969)
Joe recently retired after a very successful career in forensic science which took him via the St. Louis County Police Department Laboratory 1974-1981, to Naples, Italy, 1981-1984, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 1984-1986, and San Diego, 1986-1988. From 1988 - 2006 he was with the Drug Enforcement Administration and from 2006 - 2008 he was with the US Secret Service, Forensic Services Division, both in the Washington, DC/Virginia area.

#19 2006

Dr. Alicia M. Beatty, (BS, 1989)
Alicia was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Mississippi State University when she gave the lecture and she is now Associate Professor of Chemistry here at UMSL.

#18 2005

Dr. Rajiv M. Banavali, (Ph.D, 1985)
He was with Rohm and Haas in Philadelphia when he gave the lecture and moved to Honeywell in Morristown, NJ., in 2009 where he rose to Vice President and Chief Technology Oficer. in 2018 he became Global Vice President, Reseach & Technology with Huntsman Corporation, and retired in Dec. 2022 as Senior VP, Science and Innovation at WestRock Company in Atlanta.

#17 2004

Jean Huhmann-Vincent (BA 1992; Ph.D 1996)
Jean is Senior Vice President R & D Specialty Additives at Evonik, in Allentown, PA.

#16 2003

Mr. Jerry Ronecker, (BS 1982)
Jerry is a partner in the Saint Louis law firm, Husch, Ampersand, Eppenberger. He has been with the firm since September 1990.

#15 2002

Dr. Douglas G. Nuelle (BS 1969)
Doug is currently Chief of Orthopedics at the Fannin Regional Hospital in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Doug died in December 2022.

#14 2001

Mr. Ken Owens (BS 1980)
Ken was appointed Scientific Glassblower in the Chemistry Department at UMSL in 1997 and served until his untimely death in 2007.

#13 2000

Dr. Deborah F. Bergstrom (BS 1980)
Deborah was with Dow-Corning Company as Global Research Leader in Midland MI but she moved to the DC area in 2006 and runs a consulting company, Bridgehead Enterprises and teaches chemistry at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD .

#12 1999

Dr. Michael D. Ennis (BS 1978)
Mike went west to Caltech to complete his Ph.D. degree with David Evans prior to joining the staff at Pharmacia & UpJohn in Kalamazoo, MI. He spent several years with Pfizer Inc. in St. Louis, as a Research Director until retirement.

#11 1998

Dr. Karl Seper (BS 1982)
Karl was a Project Development Specialist at the Technology Center of the Occidental Chemical Corporation, Grand Island, NY. He since move and is now .

 in Grand Rapids, MI


#10 1997

Dr. Dawn L. Shiang (BA 1983, Ph.D. 1988)
Dawn was Director for Asia-Pacific Research for Dow Chemical Co located in Shanghai, China, for 4 years and returned to Midland MI. in 2010.  She served for three years as Associate Director for Sustainable Technologies before retiring in 2013.

#9 1996

Robert L. Lamberg, MD (BS 1972)
Dr. Robert Lamberg practices Ophthalmology at Clarkson Eyecare in Saint Louis, Missouri

#8 1995

Dr. Janet Braddock-Wilking (BA 1985)
Janet is Associate Professor Emerita of Chemistry at UMSL.

#7 1994

Professor C. Michael Drain (BS 1982)
Mike was Professor of Chemistry at Hunter College in New York City where he spent 25 years before his untimely death in 2020.

#6 1993

Dr. William L. Neuman (Ph.D. 1987)
Bill is Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.

#5 1992

Professor Susan A. Jansen-Varnum (BS 1982, Ph.D. 1986)
Sue is Professor of Chemistry at Temple University.

#4 1991

Dr. Gary S. Jacob (BS 1969)
Gary has been President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Scientific Officer and Director, Calllisto Pharmaceuticals , New York, NY and President, Acting Chief Executive Officer and Director, Synergy Pharmaceuticals , New York, NY, both since July 2008.

#3 1990

Mr. Harold R. Messler (BS 1970)
For many years Harold had been Director of the City of St. Louis Crime Laboratory and retired recently after a career spanning almost almost 40 years there.

#2 1989

Dr. David Henton (BS 1967)
David is retired and was Senior Scientist in the Designed Thermoplastics Research Laboratory at the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI.

#1 1988

Professor Sanford A. Asher (BA 1971)
Sandy joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 1980 and is now Distinguished Professor of Chemistry there.