Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

About the Leland Wilson Lectureship

Professor Leland Wilson, as first department head and professor in the Department of Chemistry, left a legacy of professionalism and integrity that the faculty and staff in the department hope to sustain.

Professor Wilson had a profound impact on many students who studied chemistry during the more than 20 years that he was in the department. In addition, he affected the professional development of several of the faculty and staff in the department. The Leland Wilson Lecture Series was initiated in 1997 by colleagues, family, and former students to honor Professor Wilson's many contributions to the Department of Chemistry and the University of Northern Iowa community.

In July 2007, Dr. Mary Sue and Ken Coleman made a generous donation of $100,000 to fully endow this lectureship and ensuring its continual funding.  Dr. Mary Sue Coleman is Professor Wilson's daughter and is currently serving as the President of the Association of American Universities.

On Thursday, September 19, 2019, Dr. Eric Scerri presented "The Periodic Table, Its Story and Significance."  Dr. Scerri is a chemist, author and leading historian and philosopher of science, specializing in the periodic table of the chemical elements.  His writing includes a number of books directed at the general public such as A Very Short Introduction to the Periodic Table and 30-Second Elements.  He is a frequent contributor to popular science magazines such as Scientific American and New Scientist.  

The Leland Wilson Lecture Series:

  • 2018-2019 Dr. Jennifer Stern, Space Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

  • 2017-2018 Dr. Auriel A. Willette, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Psychology, and Biomedical Sciences at Iowa State University.

  • 2016-2017 Dr. Annette Richards, Professor of Music and University Organist at Cornell University, and Dr. Catherine Oertel, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Oberlin College.

  • 2015-2016 Dr. Kimryn Rathmell, Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology and Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

  • 2014-2015, Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

  • 2013-2014 Dr. Paul Kelter, award-winning teacher and researcher in Chemistry Education.

  • 2012-2013 Dr. Melanie Sanford, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan

  • 2011-2012 Dr. Harry B. Gray, Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology

  • 2010-2011 Dr. R. Graham Cooks, Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Purdue University

  • 2009-2010 Dr. John Warner, President and Chief Technology Office Warner/Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry

  • 2008-2009 Dr. Richard Zare, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University

  • 2007-2008 Dr. Geri Richmond, Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon

  • 2006-2007 Dr. Paul G. Wenthold, Associate Professor, Purdue University

  • 2005-2006 Dr. Charles D. Huss, Staff Emergency Department Physician, Mercy Hospital, Iowa City

  • 2004-2005 Dr. Nancy Wilson Ashbach, M.D., M.B.A., Professor of Health Policy, University of Denver, Family Physician

  • 2003-2004 Dr. John Talley, Microbia, Inc

  • 2002-2003 Dr. Becky Lewis, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Inc.

  • 2001-2002 Dr. M. Dale Hawley, Professor of Chemistry, Kansas State University

  • 2000-2001 Dr. Steven M. Heilmann, Corporate Scientist, 3M Corporate Research

  • 1999-2000 Dr. Mark J. Kurth, Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Davis

  • 1998-1999 Dr. Robert D. Koob, President, University of Northern Iowa

  • 1997-1998 Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Iowa

About Leland Wilson

Professor Leland Wilson, a native of Kentucky, joined the UNI faculty in 1955. He received a B.S. degree from Eastern Kentucky University, the M.S. from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Prior to coming to UNI, Wilson was a high school science teacher in Kentucky and Florida. He served as a radar maintenance officer in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

During his 24 years at UNI, Wilson taught physical science and chemistry, specializing in instrumental analysis, becoming an expert in a number of newly emerging instrumental techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry. He was the first Department Head of the newly formed Department of Chemistry in 1968, and served in that capacity until 1975. He retired as professor of chemistry in 1979, and passed away in the summer of 1993 at the age of 79.

He was well respected and popular with both students and colleagues. With an infectious smile and an easy-going style, Wilson was able to motivate even the most reluctant students to expect more of themselves. His sense of fairness, his common sense, and his good nature made him a pleasure to be around.

The Leland Wilson Scholarship Fund was established in 1997 at the University of Northern Iowa. The scholarship fund was initiated by several alumni and friends who wanted to honor and pay tribute to their former teacher and mentor.

If you would like to contribute to the Leland Wilson Scholarship Fund, please contact:

Dr. Laura Strauss, Head
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls IA 50614-0423
Telephone: 319-273-2437
Fax: 319-273-7127