Successful Graduates

From its beginnings, Coe's chemistry majors have gone on to become some of the most accomplished professionals in their fields. A few of the more notable alumni are profiled below.

Recent Alums

Sarah Anciaux

Sarah Anciaux graduated in 2011 with an American Chemical Society certified chemistry major and a Spanish minor. Her hometown is Iowa City, Iowa, where she attended City High. Currently, she is living in Minneapolis where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Minnesota.  Sarah has a research interest on the effect of nanoparticles on the environment.

“The opportunities presented by faculty summer research, hands-on activities in classes and Coe's connections with other colleges have greatly aided me during my time at Coe. These different experiences have allowed me to develop not only an amazing resume, but most importantly, to develop into a research-minded person. As I continue onto graduate school, I know that I would not be where I am without the experiences presented to me by attending Coe, and my interaction with the Chemistry Department.” - Sarah Anciaux ’11

Amanda Sonntag

Amanda Sonntag, originally from Janesville, Wis., graduated in 2008, double majoring in chemistry and biochemistry.  She currently lives in Chicago with husband Matt Sontag (’08) and is attending dental school at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"The experiences I had at Coe were undoubtedly the most challenging and rewarding of my life.  I am indebted to the chemistry faculty for their rigorous curriculum and research program that provided me with an educational foundation that I will carry with me always." - Amanda Sonntag, '08

Matt Sonntag

Matt Sonntag graduated in 2008, with a major in chemistry and with a minor in mathematics.  Originally from Janesville, Wis., Matt currently resides in Chicago with his wife, Amanda (’08).  Matt is earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Northwestern University and hopes to teach at a small liberal arts school, similar to Coe, in the future.

"Coe was instrumental in preparing me for my life after college.  The faculty at Coe provided a stimulating environment for learning communication, problem solving and decision making skills.  The chemistry faculty in particular provided an excellent foundation with regards to research and curriculum for pursuing my career goals."- Matt Sonntag, '08

Matt Bream

Matthew Bream graduated in 2007, with a double major in biochemistry and general science.  He is now a medical student at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and will graduate in May 2012.

“In college you need to have your own drive to get something meaningful out of your education and set yourself up for a good career. I feel that the faculty at Coe brought this out in me, and were also there to provide me with assistance and guidance on my journey.”- Matthew Bream, ’07

Distinguished Graduates

  • Stookey, S.D. '36; B.A. - After receiving his bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics from Coe in 1936, S. Donald Stookey went on to earn a M.Sc. from Lafayette College and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then took a position at Corning Glass Works, where he remained for 47 years. His name appeared on over 60 patents with Corning, but his best known discovery led to the creation of a product called CorningWare®. He is now retired. Find out more in a profile from the American Ceramic Society Bulletin.
  • Sabacky, M. Jerome '61; B.A. - Jerry Sabacky graduated from Coe magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry in 1961, and immediately began a Ph.D. program in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. Upon receiving his degree in 1966, he began his career in industrial research with Monsanto. His expertise in the synthesis of chiral ligands was quickly put to use as part of a three-person team working in the area of asymetric catalysis. The work led to the first commercially viable synthesis of a chiral molecule - the well-known Parkinson's disease drug, L-dopa. This breakthrough research was recognized in 2001 with a Nobel Prize for the team's leader, William Knowles.
  • Banks, R. Darryl '72; B.A. - Darryl Banks was a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford to do doctoral work in chemistry and biochemistry. After returning to the U.S., he moved into the world of environmental policy. After spending eight years as Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Quality at the New York State Department of Environmental Quality, he became Director of Environment and Technology Program and Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute where his group focused on strategic corporate environmental issues, including groundbreaking work on environmental accounting and environmental performance metrics. He was an associate partner at Sustainable Value Partners in Washington, D.C. Currently he is a consultant at Mitretek Systems.

Heather Edvenson '05 uses the Raman microscope to identify iron oxides. Heather is now a Ph.D. student in chemistry at Cornell University.

Heather Edvenson '05 uses the Raman microscope to identify iron oxides. Heather is now a Ph.D. student in chemistry at Cornell University.

Coe has graduated 71 chemistry majors in the past 10 years. Of this number, approximately 50 percent headed off to graduate school in chemistry or related fields. These students are routinely accepted into the top programs in the nation - Stanford, Berkeley, CalTech, Cornell, Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins. Another 20 percent enter graduate or professional schools in the health sciences (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, opthamology). A significant number (13%) have pursued careers teaching high school science. Still others have gone directly into professional careers in industry, government laboratories, and regulatory agencies. Here are some examples of what recent Coe graduates are doing.

Graduate school in chemistry
Five-Year listing of Departmental Graduates


Name (other majors)
Post Baccalaureate Activities
Sarah Anciaux 2011 Grad. School, University of Minnesota, Nano Chemistry
Jeremy Gerhart 2011 Los Alamos National Lab, Nuclear Chemistry
Tiffany Myers 2011 North Carolina University
Nicholas Keyes 2011 Penn State University, Environmental Engineering
Zach Hayes 2011 Working in industry (Iowa City)
Ricky Kremer 2011 High School Chemistry Teacher
Hillary Allen 2010 Grad. School, University of Colorado, Neuroscience
Tanja Duehrkop 2010 Working in industry (Atlanta)
Caitlin Johnson 2010 Working in industry (Madison)
Katie Paulsen 2010 University of Nebraska Medical School
Sakinah Haque
Grad. school, environmental science, Iowa State University
Dipak Mainali (biochemistry)
Grad. school, chemistry, Iowa State University
Nina Schiroo (biochemistry)
Working in industry prior to applying to medical. school
Shannon Wiegard
Working in industry
Nikki Comer
Med. school, University of Iowa
Ian Ellickson
Grad. school, environmental science, Iowa State University
Amanda Stegeman (biochemistry)
Dental Student, University of Illinois
Matt Sonntag
Ph.D., chemistry, Northwestern
Ira Staehle
Ph.D., chemistry, UCLA
Matt Bream (biochemistry)
Med. school, University of Iowa
Kapil Kandel (biochemistry)
Ph.D., chemistry, Iowa State University
Jacob Frueh
Ph.D., chemistry, University of Iowa
Paul Munson (biochemistry)
Ph.D., chemistry, Pennsylvania State University
Amanda Kabel (biochemistry)
NIH Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award, Medical school, Univeristy of Iowa
Alaina Anderson (biochemistry, Spanish)
Cargill, Memphis
Jess Brownell
Chemist, Merck
Sarah Dorff
M.S., genetics, Tulane University
Heather Edvenson
Ph.D., chemistry, Cornell University
Heather Friberg (biochemistry)
Ph.D., virology, University of Mass. - Amherst
Darbie Little (biochemistry)
M.D., MPH, University of Iowa
Kevin Livengood (biochemistry)
O.D., Southern College of Optometry


Health Sciences

  • Danielle Sandsmark '01 turned a January Term internship at the Mayo Clinic into a full semester internship her junior year. Upon graduating from Coe magna cum laude, she entered the MD/Ph.D. program at Washington University. She is currently working in the lab of Dr. David Guttman in the neuroscience program.
  • Todd Wenck '96 graduated summa cum laude from Coe while also lettering in baseball for four years. He completed his M.D. at the University of Iowa, and is currently engaged in family practice in Bettendorf, Iowa.


  • Chad Zrudsky '01 was president of the student body and ran track while he was at Coe. At Marion High School, "Mr. Z" teaches science, coaches track and cross country, and is faculty advisor to the Student Senate.
  • Colin Killmer '98 is teaching science at Portage Northern High School in Portage, Mich. His innovative instructional methods include teaching physics through the construction of electric guitars, and he is building a freshmen mentoring program.

Related Areas

  • Cole Goater '02 received a very competitive fellowship to enter the masters degree program in forensic science at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is currently a forensic scientist and firearms examiner in the office of the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency.
  • Andy Smothers '00 added a chemistry degree from Coe to his degree and experience in computer science. He is now in a bioinformatics Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa, where he is developing a database that integrates clinical and gene expression data.