College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Chemistry

Thomas F. Spilker ’09

Thomas F. Spilker ‘09Ph.D. Student in Inorganic Chemistry
The Ohio State University

I would like to express my gratitude to the John Carroll University Chemistry Department for the preparation they gave me to start my career in chemistry.  The faculty at JCU is especially responsible for creating an environment that supports and challenges students to develop as people and as scientists.

The excellent education the JCU Chemistry Department provides begins with a genuine interest the faculty takes in teaching their students and continues with a thorough curriculum.  I can remember sitting in Professor Challen’s office discussing coursework and career opportunities when all of sudden we found ourselves discussing soccer and the World Cup.  These sorts of discussions became commonplace with Dr. Challen as well as many of the other chemistry faculty who truly take note of students’ interests.  This was quite unexpected as I was used to the strict teacher-student dynamic most of us associate with a typical classroom.

The thorough curriculum in the Chemistry Department, in my case the Comprehensive Chemistry degree, was integral in my development.  The exposure to many areas of chemistry helped prepare me for the multidisciplinary research I am involved with currently.  The hands-on instrument experience the JCU chemistry department provides is invaluable and lays the foundation to excel in the graduate research environment.

I was also afforded opportunities outside the classroom.  Dr. Kwan helped me arrange a summer internship with Sherwin-Williams after my sophomore year, and it was there I had my first taste of research.  The following school year I began working in Dr. Challen’s lab, where I worked for two years until I graduated.  With Dr. Challen, I was able to spend a summer working in the lab performing research supported by the John Huntington Foundation, which culminated in a publication.

Currently, I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at The Ohio State University.  I have been able to publish papers in some of the best chemistry journals in the world including The Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Physical Chemistry A, and Chemical Sciences among others.  My success at OSU can be directly traced to the opportunities and education the JCU Chemistry Department provided me.

As I prepare to graduate next year, I owe the JCU Chemistry Department for the preparation they gave me.  They provided me with the skills, opportunity, and confidence necessary to be successful in the pursuit of my Ph.D.  Any graduate of the John Carroll University Chemistry Department can expect to be similarly prepared for the career he or she decides to pursue.