Alumni News

John Robinson, class of 1976 (updated 1/12/11).  John is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Molina Healthcare of Washington - a Medicaid health insurance plan. Prior to joining Molina Healthcare in 2004 he was the program director and founder of the St. Mark's Family Medicine Residency program in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is also the founder and president of PEHR Technologies, LLC, a software development company, which specializes in personal health records on USB flash drives.  He received his BS degree in chemistry from Gonzaga University in 1976.  Drs. Nakamaye, Kelsh, and McMinn were essential in shaping his critical thinking skills.  One of the highlights of his Gonzaga education was winning a National Science Foundation grant to study Kirlian photography in 1975 with his classmates: John Staeheli, Bobbie Sue Daniels, Mark O'Hollaren and Dave Meier.  After Gonzaga he finished  his M.D. degree and family practice residency from the University of Utah.  In 2004 he went back to school to earn a master's degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. John and his wife, Gayle, have two sons, David and Daniel.  They are both graduates of Gonzaga.  David is a orthopedic surgery resident in Atlanta and Daniel is a 4th year medical student at UW.  Having some of the same teachers that taught John still at Gonzaga to teach his sons was truly remarkable.

Timothy Herzog, class of 1990 (updated 1/12/11).  Tim graduated from Gonzaga with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1990.  While at Gonzaga, he did undergraduate research with Professor Joanne Smieja.  The class in which he learned the most was the "Unified Laboratory" which was very loosely organized integrated lab that included P-chem, inorganic, and advanced organic.  He says, "we had to figure out everything for ourselves which taught me how things actually get done in a world where reagents and equipment aren't laid out for you at the beginning of a 3 hour window of time."  He went to graduate school at Caltech and worked in the laboratories of Professor John Bercaw synthesizing new organometallic catalysts for olefin polymerization.  After finishing his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry in 1996, he worked in Research and Development at Union Carbide Corporation until 2000 when Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide.  He continued to work for Dow until 2005 when he and his family moved to Ogden, UT as his wife Valerie started a faculty position at Weber State University.  He worked part time as an adjunct professor at Weber State until 2008 when he accepted a tenure track position.  He is currently in his third year as an assistant professor at Weber State University teaching General Chemistry as well as the Inorganic and Organic laboratories.  He says that he is still inspired by his experiences at Gonzaga and tries to live up to the great examples of his professors at GU.  He is doing research with several students on synthesizing biofuels from the algae that grow in the Great Salt Lake.  He has 2 children, Isabelle (10) and Jade (4) and they love it in Utah although he does miss his family and friends back in Spokane.  

Bill Cobb, class of 1991 (updated 1/12/11).  Bill writes, "my Gonzaga education and sense of community has always served me well through the years.  After 11 years in the NOAA officers corps which included time as a ship's officer, an antarctic biologist, and operations officer at the NOAA Diving Center I finally transitioned to medical school at the University of Washington.  I completed my pediatric residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and am currently a naval officer and the medical officer aboard one of our nation's warships out of Norfolk, Virginia.  It is an honor to serve my country and the sailors and marines that defend us.  I'm lucky to have the continued support of my very patient wife, Alex, and my 3 year old daughter Evelyn and 1 year old daughter Lucille.  I will always look back fondly on my years as a Gonzaga student and the wonderful role models within the Gonzaga Chemistry department."

Michelle (Roy) Leff, (class of 1999) (updated 1/12/11).  Michelle completed her pediatric residency at UCSD and is now faculty.  She works half-time in the newborn nursery and half time in the general pediatric clinic.  Michelle is now married with a new last name of "Leff".

Jeff Strahan, class of 2005 (updated 1/12/11).  After graduating from Gonzaga with a B.S. in chemistry in 2005, Jeff attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin.  After five years including a summer internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Jeff received his doctorate in organic chemistry under the tutelage of Prof. C. Grant Willson.  Currently, he is a research chemist for Milliken and Company in Spartanburg, SC. 

Mallory Novack, (class of 2008) (updated 1/12/11).  Mallory is still in medical school and plans on graduating next spring (2012).  She is in my third year right now doing clinical rotations.  She is hoping to complete her residency in Spokane but will not know for sure until she starts applying for residency positions in the fall of 2011. 

Phuong Chu - class of 2006 (updated 4/8/2008).  Since graduation, Phuong has served as a Good Shepherd Volunteer for one year in Wickatunk, NJ, and entered religious life with the Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic religious order.  Her service work in NJ involved teaching, tutoring, mentoring and anything else needed at Collier High School, an alternative school for very high functioning teens with learning disabilities and troubled lives.  Outside of her time at the high school, she assisted teenage young women at the Collier Group Home with their school work.  In addition, she was nominated based on her academic and extracurricular activities records to participate in the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP), which gave her the privilege of traveling to China as a member of the Delegation on Medicine.  In May 2007, along with 80 other ISLP scholars from the U.S., she traveled to China to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and how TCM and Western Medicine can be complementary rather than alternatives.  The opportunity to volunteer and study in China helped her to discern more deeply God's call for her, and she decided to pursue religious life before continuing on with graduate studies.  Thus, she presently lives in St. Louis, MO, with a community of Sisters as she undergoes training and preparation to become more fully incorporated into the congregation.  

Amanda Vernon - class of 2006 (updated 2/29/2008).  Since graduating in 2006 with a B.S. in chemistry, Amanda has been working as a scientist for Hollister-Stier Laboratories, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Spokane.  As part of the Method Transfer Validation group, Amanda writes protocols, standard operating procedures, and result reports; qualifies analysis methods; provides quality control support on project teams; and performs testing in support of manufacturing.  Transferring client methods has allowed her to solve problems and gain a sense of ownership and fulfillment when the method becomes routine enough to train new analysts.  She performs tests on active pharmaceutical ingredients and finished products for release; in-process material during compounding of the pharmaceuticals; and products as part of a rigorous stability program.  She has greatly enjoyed learning the processes behind producing pharmaceuticals and how each department within her company plays an important role.  Additionally, it has been interesting to see what clients must accomplish to apply for FDA approval of their products.  She looks forward to advancing to gain additional experience, but the best thing about this job is having time for herself when the work day is over (rather than homework)!   She has been enjoying the outdoors, whether it is snowboarding in the winter or spending time at the lake in the summer, and has also continued playing violin with the GU symphony.

Tanya (Spreier) Hayden – class of 2001 (updated 5/24/2007).  For the last six years, Tanya has been at Bend Research, Inc, in Bend Oregon. Tanya says BRI continues to be a wonderful, challenging and fast-paced environment.  She has very good mentors who have never failed to challenge her.  She has spent the last six months leading a project to integrate formulation strategies into very early drug discovery.  It’s a new area for her - previously she was more focused on downstream pharmaceutical development, i.e. specific compounds for macular degeneration, obesity, or heart disease – which means that she has a lot to learn and it is all very exciting.  She feels fortunate to have her position at BRI.  They provide her with endless opportunities for growth, which is great, but extremely exhausting!  Tanya and her husband, Josh, very much enjoy living in Bend and all the recreation it offers.  They have no children, but a big Saint Bernard and two cats that they spoil.  Josh is finishing his Master’s in Teaching and will be applying for jobs teaching 3rd-5th grade this fall

Michael Martin -- class of 1984 (updated 10/9/2007).  With the help of Gonzaga's stellar chemistry program and a recommendation from advisor Kay Nakamaye, five medical schools admitted Mike upon his graduation in 1984.  But after spending nearly three years in training, Mike decided medicine wasn't for him.  Mike moved from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, where he stared Orion Environmental Laboratories, Inc.  He later sold the chemical and enviromental testing firm, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in business in September (2007). In 1997, Mike received an MBA and masters degree in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle.  Regularly publishing as a freelance writer, he returned to Washignton, D.C. and changed careers to become a full-time science journalist with United Press International.  A member of the National Press Club and National Association of Science Writers, Mike now splits his time as a journalist for several national magazines and public relations writer for such organizations as the University of California, U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Philathropic Trust.  Mike and his wife of 12 years, Alison, now live in Columbia, Missouri with their two children, Josie Lee and Jack Donald.

Margaret J. Clarke, OSB – class of 1962 (updated 5/24/2007).  Sr. Margaret came to Gonzaga in '56, and left in '59 to enter the Benedictines in Duluth. By special permission she was allowed to transfer back her last year of college courses and having taken a year off for the novitiate, received her BS degree from Gonzaga in '62. She immediately began teaching chemistry at the Benedictine high school in Duluth, and continued there until it closed in '67. In the summers, she worked on a masters in analytical chemistry at Marquette and when she finished that in '68 she began teaching at the Benedictine College of St. Scholastica, where she has been ever since. She had some time off to do doctoral work at Oregon State University, and in 1976 got a Ph.D. in Radiation Physics and History of Science (interdisciplinary program.) Most of her teaching at College of St. Scholastica has been in physics and earth sciences but she has also taught some of the advanced lab courses in Chemistry, and the freshman Chemistry sequence for other faculty on leave. Sr. Margaret’s fond memories of chemistry at GU are of Father Art McNeil, Father Tim O'Leary, and Dr. Lydia Savedoff. When she was here, the department was still in the "original" building. She and her peers all had a secret desire to slide down the exterior fire escape but never did. The only time she has been back to GU was a few years ago when she attended the AAPT meeting. At that time, she was able to admire the palatial new buildings, and found her picture in the rogues' gallery in the Ad. Building. She has only recently begun receiving mail from the alumni association--she always attributed the lack of mail to the fact that nuns have no income from which to contribute.

Micheal Cameron – class of 1994 (updated 5/24/2007).  Mike currently works at the new Scripps facility in Florida.  He is the Associate Director of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics and has a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in the department of Molecular Therapeutics (formerly Drug Discovery).  His department is a hybrid of industry and academia where they have groups of synthetic organic chemists, pharmacologists, and biologists working on common projects with the goal of licensing investigational compounds as they approach clinical trials.  They have licensed one set of compounds to Novartis and one to a small biotech in the past two years.  His group sits at the interface between the other groups so he has significant interactions with all areas of the project.  This means he gets to attend many meetings but it also provides him with a more complete picture of the overall drug discovery process.  Mike married Kendra Mayo (also a GU alum). They have two daughters age 9 and 6. 

Bob Jones – class of 1972 (update 5/24/2007).  After graduating from Gonzaga University in 1972, Bob returned to Canada and eventually found his way to Vancouver where he’s lived with his wife Catherine (met her at Gonzaga) ever since.  Bob and Catherine have four children who are now all grown but as of yet they have no grandchildren.  After working for a number of years at a private analytical laboratory, Bob began working for the Greater Vancouver Regional District in the late 1970's and that's where he’s been ever since.  His job involves quality control of the drinking water and wastewater for the region (2 million people).  Bob says he has had an interesting career.  In addition to his regular job, Bob has also been highly involved with the industry associations including the American Water Works Association.

Todd Koyama – class of 1997 (updated 5/24/2007).  After graduating from Gonzaga University in 1997 with a BS in chemistry, Todd obtained an MBA degree in 1999 also from Gonzaga. He then went to work at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. Since 2001 he has been working at Washington Trust Bank as a loan officer. Although Todd does not use a Periodic Table every day, he is very thankful for the critical thinking methods and problem solving skills he obtained through his Chemistry degree.  Todd is married and has an 11-month old son (Lincoln).  Todd and his family have lived in Spokane since graduation.

Polly (Gasnick) Foley – class of 1990 (updated 5/24/2007).  Polly is teaching high school chemistry at Barrington High School, which is in a suburb of Chicago. It is a reasonably affluent community with excellent resources so Polly feels lucky. This is Polly’s first year of teaching and it's going well. She’s been teaching all general chemistry students which can be a challenge. She thinks her students see her as more of a mom figure. Polly is excited to be involved in chemistry again and enjoys trying to find ways to teach it to kids. She likes teaching, even though she can't believe how much work it involves.  Polly has three children, Maureen is 16, Alex is 14, and Nick is 12. Her life is hectic with her job and her children so she looks forward to summer vacation.

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Phone: (509) 313-6632
www.gonzaga.edu/chemistry