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Crazy About Chemistry

Chisomo Mwale
Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

Lake Forest College, especially the science department, has experienced quite a number of changes in the past few years. The summer of 2016 saw the demolition of the Johnson C building and our beloved bridge to make way for the construction of the new Lillard Science Center. Other adjustments have been made to the science department, including the addition of two new faculty members to the Chemistry Department. Dr. Paul Gladen and Dr. Erica Schultz share some of their experiences as undergraduate students and how their paths have led them to Lake Forest College.

Dr. Paul Gladen, a native of the Midwest, joined the Chemistry department in 2016. Following Dr. William Martin’s retirement, the Organic Chemistry professor for over 50 years, Dr. Gladen began teaching the course in the fall of 2016. Dr. Gladen attended St. Olaf College for his undergraduate degree where he learned the importance of “living a life of worth and service.” He was also able to combine his love for music and chemistry because of St. Olaf’s general education and music programs. While he graduated with a Chemistry major, he was also interested in Biology and had been debating between the two. He eventually decided to pursue Chemistry because it had a stronger pull on his heart. Dr. Gladen later went to attend Indiana University to pursue his PhD in Organic Chemistry because he knew he wanted to teach it someday. He was drawn to a small liberal arts school like Lake Forest College because of its location, chemistry department, and the instrumentation, notably the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine that is available for a school of such a small size. Dr. Gladen has found that students at Lake Forest College are “easy to work with” and very diverse inside and outside the classroom, and while the Chemistry department is not as diverse as our student body, it has a representation of different perspective and teaching approaches. Eager and passionate about research, Dr. Gladen started research with Chemistry seniors Darya Rodina 18’, Ian Murphy 18’, Fiona Lutolli 18’, and Brandon Siaj 18’ during the summer. His research is focused on “Total Synthesis of Natural Products”. Although he has not been exposed to all the campus traditions, he has enjoyed being a part of the Faculty Demo Show, where faculty members such as Dr. Cody perform exciting chemistry demonstrations. Still, there will be plenty of time for Dr. Gladen to experience what Lake Forest College has to offer.

Dr. Erica Scultz is another addition to the Chemistry department and is the newest addition. She is teaching Biochemistry this fall and will be teaching Organic Chemistry II in the Spring. Like Dr. Gladen, Dr. Schultz got her Bachelor’s degree at a liberal arts college. She completed her Chemistry major with an emphasis on Biochemistry at Macalester College in Minnesota. When she started her college career, she had planned on pursing a Studio Art major, but the general education requirements at Macalester led her to chemistry where she found her love. Once she had found her niche with chemistry, she went on to to do summer research with her Organic Chemistry professor. Dr. Schultz appreciated this experience because she “didn’t know she could do research.” In fact, some of her best memories as an undergraduate took place when she was doing research. Her professor would play pranks on her and other students in the lab; she would write unsuitable and funny phrases on the inside of the fume hood glass and when students tried to erase it with acetone, they “would end up getting frustrated.” Aside from academics, Dr. Schultz was a part of the Women’s Hockey team at Macalester and had her own radio show, where she played American music, like Bluegrass, for all four years.

When it comes to her Postgraduate career, Dr. Schultz had not known she would be pursuing a PhD in Organic Chemistry. She “thought she would be an architect or doctor” going into college and with Organic Chemistry, she found that she could “combine the two as you use pictures to solve things and can apply the information to health too.” However, by the time she graduated college, she knew she wanted to teach and this choice led her to the University of California, Berkeley. She had a good learning experience with many “late nights in lab” and a picturesque view of the sun setting as she was doing experiments in her fume hood. Despite her wonderful memories of California, Dr. Schultz was drawn to Lake Forest College because of its proximity to Chicago, its size, traditional liberal arts school values, and her interactions with students. She found that Lake Forest College students are “engaged, curious, enthusiastic, and hardworking”. Every Biochemistry class she teaches comes with its own unique excitement. Despite being the newest member of the Chemistry Department, Dr. Schultz has already gotten to know some of the faculty from the Biology and Physics Departments. She has also met Boomer the Bear! She is a fan of Boomer and likes “how long and thin his teeth are.” Dr. Schultz is eager to see the new Lillard Science Center that comes with the new Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors because of the automatic collaboration between the Biology and Chemistry Departments; the new Biochemistry labs will also allow students to engage in true Biochemical research.

With the coming of the new science center and the new science majors, Dr. Gladen and Dr. Schultz are already investing in the continuation of Lake Forest College tradition by being passionate about the courses they teach, accepting students to work with them in research, and being resources for students outside the classroom. In addition, their experiences at liberal arts schools, like Lake Forest College, make their experiences very relatable to our own. Indeed, we look forward to getting to know more about these two wonderful professors in the years to come.


Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.

Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.