Students and Alumni


Drs. Chris Stoj and Luis Sanchez, left, and Dr. Robyn Goacher, right, pose with some 2016 chemistry and biochemistry graduates.

Our students are our proudest product! Alumni often ask us how their former classmates are doing and we encourage all chemistry alumni to keep in touch with us and your classmates by sending us highlights of your accomplishments.

We would love to hear from all of you!

For current and prospective students, we hope you enjoy hearing the voice of students like you by reading the alumni testimonials and accomplishments below. Who knows what you might achieve after graduation from Niagara!


Nicholas Palisano, BS Biochemistry, 2016

Starting as a freshman in the Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics in the fall of 2012, I was attracted to Niagara’s small class sizes, friendly and competent faculty and staff, and brand new science building. The B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, or simply, “Golisano,” offered me an opportunity to learn and work in a state-of-the-art facility with cutting edge equipment and technology. Along with the building came a faculty and staff that truly cared about your success and growth as a student. Being able to learn in small class sizes from the actual professor rather than teaching assistants allowed me to ask questions and understand the course material on a higher level.

Establishing professional relationships with most of my professors gave me the chance to get involved in activities the department had to offer, such as tutoring and research. As a research assistant working alongside a professor, I worked with lab rats to test the effects of a certain compound on feeding behaviors using sophisticated lab equipment. This opportunity provided me with hands-on experience in a professional lab setting and the chance to work on a research team to develop my communication and presenting skills.

While the department prides itself on research and academics, there are also many clubs and leadership positions that students can get involved in. Between the American Chemical Society Club, Biology Club, Physics Club, a new Astronomy Club, and even several honor societies, there are endless ways to meet other students, boost your resume, and have fun outside of the classroom! These clubs have given me the chance to make so many friendships that will be sure to last me a lifetime. My experiences and knowledge gained from NU and the department have prepared me to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy at the University at Buffalo starting in the fall of 2016.

Emily York, BS Chemistry, 2016

I began at NU in September of 2012, and I just recently graduated from the department in 2016. In the Fall of 2016, I will be attending Boston University for a Chemistry PhD with a concentration in organic chemistry. The Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics was truly amazing, and it definitely surpassed my expectations. When I was looking at schools as a high school senior, I knew I wanted to major in chemistry, but I had no idea what to look for in a department. But as I continued my education at NU, I realized more and more that it was the perfect fit to me.

One of my favorite parts about the department was how much each professor cared about all of their students. I really felt that I had a personal connection with every professor that I had. With the small class sizes, they all knew who I was too, which proved to be really important to me. All of the professors were very approachable and available out of the classroom to help students, even if they weren’t in office hours. They knew what skills were desired for jobs in the field or to apply to graduate/professional schools and made sure they did everything they could to help us achieve our goals. Throughout my education, there was a focus on presenting, scientific writing, and experimental skills. Through career seminar, we had the opportunity to make resumes, personal statements/cover letters, and have practice interviews. By the time I was ready to apply to graduate school, I felt more than prepared and I got accepted into a number of great programs throughout the country. Just as great as the professors were my classmates. Everyone was always willing to help each other and work together, especially when things got tough. Through the department, I have met some of the most amazing friends that have helped get me to where I am today.

At NU, all chemistry and biochemistry majors are required to do at least one year of research. However, the professors highly encourage getting involved as soon as your sophomore year. Working beside your professor is an opportunity not seen in larger departments and the amount of time they devote to research on top of teaching is truly unbelievable. The amount of instrumentation and research fields available within such a small department is astounding. Within the teaching labs throughout my education I got hands-on experience with a large number of high-tech instruments that made me more qualified than my competitors. Within the department, I had the opportunity to present my research several times from smaller conferences within the area to the well renowned National American Chemical Society Conference in Boston in August 2015. Overall, I loved my experience at NU and it was the amazing professors and student colleagues that had made it so great. They had made me love chemistry even more and they’re the reason I am the chemist I am today.    

Jesse Stroka, BS Chemistry, 2015

I transferred to Niagara University from a SUNY school in 2013 and graduate in May 2015. I now work as a Lab Technician at a fine chemicals company, but have hopes of continuing my education at graduate level. The instructors within the Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics quickly surpassed all of my expectations. Each professor seemed to have a personal commitment to provide an up to date, relevant, and high quality education that they rigorously held themselves to. Instructors were available and willing to adapt their style of teaching to best fit the student; they genuinely wanted to see each student succeed. The professors are also down to Earth; they know the needs of graduate school and the professional world, and seek to provide the skills (from practice interviews to designing experiments) needed for both.

While interviewing for my current job, I found myself ahead of the competition with my familiarity and experience with all of the instruments I now use from my two years of undergraduate coursework at NU. Coursework also provided many opportunities to hone important skills such as presenting, scientific writing, and working as a group. Another valuable part of the education was undergraduate research which provided the opportunity to design an experiment, and gather, interpret, and report data all with the close and caring support of a mentor. My mentor was patient, knowledgeable in my topic, and continuously showed me that I was capable of much more than I thought I could be.

Instructors provided many opportunities throughout my time at NU. My research mentor provided access to instrumentation I didn’t think I would be able to use such as a Scanning Electron Microscope and a Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer. I was provided the opportunity to attend three science conferences in my senior year by my mentor as well. One wonderful instructor provided field trips to see instruments and processes relevant to course material. What blew me away about Niagara University, and why I would choose it again, is the exemplary instructors. NU is a great place to transfer to, but I wish I had started here.

Eric Stoutenburg, BS Biochemistry, 2013

The chemistry/biochemistry department at Niagara University was a fantastic place that prepared me for a long and successful career in the field of science. As a biochemistry major, I had a diverse range of courses that allowed me to learn everything from analytical chemistry to molecular cell biology. Not only did these courses prepare me for life after Niagara but I was able to use what I learned in the classroom towards independent research, which I began as a sophomore.

Over three years as an undergrad, I pursued independent research in two laboratories, went to several national science conferences, and published three papers. I was able to learn/work with a variety of instruments, various professors, and some of the best student colleagues I’ve ever had the fortune of knowing. These experiences enabled me to pursue any career track that I chose because of my diverse coursework and experience in research. In addition, I was able to be a part of the Chemistry Society, which focused on volunteer work and extracurricular activities.

After Niagara, I chose to pursue my Ph.D in Organic chemistry at the University of Rochester where I am currently a third year graduate student. The techniques and coursework that I learned at Niagara set me up perfectly for graduate school. I came into the program with a really fundamental knowledge of chemistry and how to pursue academic research. As a result of that, I felt extremely prepared upon entering the program. I would recommend Niagara to anyone who likes a small, student centered university where everyone knows your name and who you are. I am very fortunate to have gone to Niagara and to have the experiences that I gained from doing so.

John Lechanski, 2LT, US Army, B.S. Chemistry,Class of 2004

I  decided to write a letter as an alumnus telling whomever wants to know what I think about the NU chemistry department. When I came to NU, I was a bio major and it turned out that it wasn't for me. That is when I started my transition to chemistry by switching my major to Biochem.  Even then, I found myself gravitating more towards the chemistry side of science. As Dr. Krause can tell you, I didn't have the greatest first semester in organic chemistry. I actually thought it ironic because he told me that maybe chemistry wasn't for me. That is when I made up my mind to be the best chemistry student I could be and finished out the next semester with a B+. 

I believe that I owe everything academically to my two strongest mentors at NU, my professors. They, more than anybody else, helped me through the hard times and guided me through the good times. As a chemistry major at NU, I believe I was afforded the best education that I could've had. 

As I sit here typing this letter in Korea, I reflect back on what might have been the most beneficial task I learned at college; that would be multitasking taught primarily by Dr. Krause. In his classes he always challenged us to work on and finish more than one experiment or lesson at a time all the while looking up formulas to help ourselves. It was hard at first, but I can say with some experience that it has helped me tremendously as an Officer in the US Army. 

Chemistry at NU was more than just learning and memorizing concepts in books, it was looking at the current issues in science and applying what we learned to it. The professors opened up our eyes to all the possibilities that were out there. I talked with Dr. Schreiner for countless hours discussing where I could go and what I could do when I got out of college. Even now, I still keep in touch and seek advice via email.  I see chemistry at NU growing stronger and stronger every year because the program more than speaks for itself. We were always excited to get the younger students interested in chemistry and seeing them at meetings and special events was the best. Niagara chemistry sponsored a show and tell with 3rd graders at a local school to show them the "cool" things about chemistry. I think this gets their mind going and maybe someday they will be a chemist somewhere hopefully having attended Niagara University. 

I truly believe that education can happen anywhere with whatever means you have, and although we may not have had the latest equipment, we did have the best professors that experience had to offer. The two individuals I mentioned above along with the rest of the staff at NU is why students excel at life after NU. I don't know if this letter helps anyone’s cause, but maybe just to let people know what one alumnus thinks about his experiences at Niagara University - The chemistry program is the strong faculty and staff, and that is all there is to it. Thanks NU for everything, I will never forget what you've done for me.

Amanda Lynn Turnbull, B.S. Biology, B.A. Chemistry 2003

I am a Canadian student and initially heard about Niagara because of the soccer team.  I came to Niagara not having known too much about the program or the environment here.  Niagara University has provided an excellent learning environment. This was because the classes were small and the professors were very knowledgeable and helpful.  They always had time to answer questions and give advice.  The seminar classes for both biology and chemistry are very informative and prepared me for future endeavors.  They tell you what you need to do in order to get into Graduate programs, how to impress during interviews, how to write resumes and cover letters, as well as lab safety and many other things.  The professors have provided constant support and always are quick to inform you of job openings and special events.

I am interested in doing biomedical research and I plan to attend Graduate school in the near future.  For now I am looking to work in San Diego at a pharmaceutical company, to get a feel for the industrial setting.  My long term goal is to develop therapeutic treatments and design drugs for human genetic diseases.  I feel that with the lab experience I have attained at Niagara, I will be able to accomplish this desire.  Niagara University provided an opportunity for me to present my undergraduate research at science conferences where I was able to meet many people in the field. 

Altogether Niagara University, has been an excellent experience and if I had the choice to make over again, I would still choose Niagara.  I highly recommend Niagara University, and more specifically the chemistry department. 

Joseph Michael Remesz, B.S. Biology, B.A. Chemistry 2003

University of Michigan Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2007

Niagara University, specifically the Biology and Chemistry departments, prepared me for any career in the Physical and Biological or Health Sciences. I elected to to attend the University of Michigan School of Pharmacy because Pharmacy seemed like the compromise between Biology and Chemistry that I was looking for. I picked the University of Michigan because the program they have allows people to combine the Pharm.D. and Ph.D. programs and graduate in less time than would be required to complete the programs individually. This is the course that I would like to follow.

Niagara University was the perfect match for me. The classes were just the right size to create both cooperation and competitiveness between the students. The professors made sure that you got every concept and pushed you to succeed. Niagara offered me options that students at larger universities would not have, like completing two majors while still getting individual attention. Some of my favorite classes at Niagara were Organic Chemistry, Cell Biology, Pharmacology, and Calculus I-III. If anything I said sounds like something you would be interested in, I encourage you to check Niagara out in person.

Christopher V. DeSimone, B.S. Biochemistry, B.S. Biology 2003

University of Buffalo Medical School M.D. Ph.D. program class of 2010

The Niagara University Chemistry department prepared me with the tools necessary to achieve my goal of getting into medical school. The unique ability to conduct cutting edge research with faculty members at an undergraduate stage is provided by the Chemistry department here at Niagara. In addition, the "open-door" policy implemented by all of the faculty members is a tradition that is not usually followed by most universities. The one-on-one attention that students receive at the school are invaluable. The faculty members are experts in their respective fields and live their days at Niagara passing on this wisdom to students. Research in organic synthesis, computational chemistry, and electrochemistry have been successfully conducted at our school.

The school provided me with the preparation for medical school. Through the guidance and instruction of my professors, I was able to score in the 97% percentile on both the Physical and Biological Sciences sections on the MCAT. This, in conjunction with my writing skills that were enhanced through scientific writing at the school (I scored in the top section of the writing section on the MCAT also), were critical to my success with the medical school application process. I was invited to a very large number of interviews at some of the top medical (MDPhD) programs in the country, and also was accepted to top medical programs.

I love the program so much that my brother is now attending. I truly believe that there is continued excellence lying ahead for this program. It just keeps on getting better. If I could do the whole college process all over again, no doubt I would choose Niagara. The learning experience here has changed my life and has sparked an increased desire to learn and succeed.

Mary Chlebowski, BS in Chemistry, 2001

The four years I spent at Niagara University were a time of personal and professional growth.  I originally came into the university as an undeclared major but quickly found my place in the Chemistry Department at Niagara.  Thanks to the guidance of my professors, I graduated with a BS in Chemistry (and a minor in Criminal Justice) and am now in a Ph.D. program at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Niagara U. gave me a solid background in the fundamentals of chemistry and was flexible enough to offer individualized research experience, a key factor in my acceptance into Emory.  Class sizes are small enough for students to receive personal attention as well as allowing for the class to move ahead at its own pace.  Perhaps one of the most important life skills I learned at Niagara was how to manage my time.  While chemistry courses were demanding, I was able to balance these with an active social life.  This was crucial in my first year at Emory, where I was subjected to intense courses, a rigorous teaching load and a new home. 

The professors at Niagara were approachable and understanding, helping me make the best decision for summer research as an undergraduate and then later, as to graduate school.  Currently, I am finishing my second year of graduate school.  I have passed my second year defense and am continuing on for my Ph.D. in Organic chemistry under the direction of Dr. Fredric Menger.  After graduation from Emory, I hope to land a position in industry, possibly working abroad.  I am investigating the perfume and food industries, where I would hopefully manage people and resources in a corporate lab.

Michael Jordan, B.S. in Biochemistry 2000

SUNY at Buffalo Medical School Class of 2004

Since graduating from Niagara University in 2000, my life has been a whirlwind.  I started medical school at the University of Buffalo in the Fall of 2000, and have been very busy ever since.  I am currently in my third year of medical school, with an anticipated graduation date in May of 2004.  I will be most likely going into Family Medicine, with a fellowship in Sports Medicine.  I also recently married my college sweetheart, Jennifer Constantino, in August of 2002, and we are currently living in Amherst, NY.

Niagara University had a great deal to do with my present and future successes.  I majored in Biochemistry at Niagara, which allowed me to take classes in both Biology and Chemistry.  I enjoyed the hands on education I received at Niagara, with the small student to faculty ratio.  The professors were excellent and very personable.  I particularly enjoyed classes in Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry.   I will always be grateful to Niagara as the school provided me with the background necessary to succeed in medical school, and a chance to meet my future wife.