Chemistry Student Spotlight: Shane Lies

Post-baccalaureate Shane Lies returned to UNI to receive a degree in biochemistry and expects to graduate in May 2014. As his Student Spotlight Shane Liesfinal semester at UNI, he plans to attend graduate school for organic chemistry in the fall. Lies has been accepted into the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Purdue.

Lies describes how his passion for chemistry developed. “When I first returned for my second degree, I took General Chemistry I as a summer course. The next fall, by the time I could register for classes, all of the General Chemistry II courses were full. The department head of chemistry tried to find some way for me to fit into one of the classes, but there was just no way. The department head arranged for me to enter into an accelerated General Chemistry I-II course, and that’s where I really began my love of chemistry.”

As the current president of the UNI Chemistry Club, UNI ACS, Lies says the position has helped him in many ways, namely “to develop leadership skills through planning events and delegating responsibilities.” He adds that, “The UNI ACS has also helped me to develop my interpersonal communication skills through demonstration shows and interaction with other students, parents, and faculty.”

Lies was drawn to UNI because of the closeness to his hometown, Waterloo, and the lower cost of the school compared to others. “UNI is unique in that I was able to start doing research in my second semester. I have worked in an organic chemistry lab for over two years now, and it taught me a wealth of skills beyond what I have learned in my courses. It has also given me a great amount of research experience, which plays a very large role in being accepted to graduate school for chemistry.”

When he’s not studying chemistry or planning activities for the Chemistry Club, Lies enjoys spending time with his friends he’s met through the chemistry program. He also relishes playing video games and sleeping. “I love to sleep,” he says. If he could, he would sleep and play video games every day on a tropical beach.

The advice he offers to other students is to “Do research. Do it early, and do it often. UNI offers a unique experience for undergraduates in the chemistry and biochemistry program, they get a lot more hands-on research experience than you would at the larger universities. The Chemistry department has professors working on several of the different disciplines of chemistry – inorganic, organic, computational, spectroscopy, astrochemistry, biochemistry, natural products isolation and more. If you start research early and find that you don’t enjoy the discipline, you can change to a different discipline and see if you like it more. Research experience really sets you apart for professional and graduate school, so do research whenever you can.”

When Lies participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program for the Chemistry department, he was given the opportunity to present his research at a national conference in New Orleans. Lies says, “It was an amazing experience to be able to show what I had been working on for so long on a national stage, and to see what kind of research other students around the country were doing.” Lies also highlighted the UNI ACS MarCHEMMadness tournament that occurs every year. “The chemistry faculty forms teams and recruits students to participate in a variety of chemistry-themed events such as a titration relay race, a pie eating contest on pi day (3/14) and a dodgeball tournament. It’s a great opportunity for the students to interact with their professors outside of the academic setting, and everyone has a lot of fun with it.”

However, the thing Lies has enjoyed most about UNI is the interactions with professors and students. “I have made many friends since I have come here, and I think that is the most valuable thing I have gained.”