Nick Schaffner

Exploration Is My Ambrosian Value

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Class of 2021

"The Research Experience for Undergraduates program is highly competitive, and at first, I thought they had made a mistake. Once I got there I realized I was definitely qualified. Students from small schools like St. Ambrose are exactly what they are looking for."

Nick’s acceptance into the prestigious REU program allowed him to spend three months in Colorado, creating and testing a potentially ground-breaking advancement in treating medical conditions and disease. His research was published in Applied Materials & Interfaces, and his curiosity and comfort to ask "what if" was borne out by his St. Ambrose education and professors who supported his quest.

Hometown: Oskaloosa, Iowa

Nick first experienced our campus in middle school when he attended a Catholic Youth Conference. Everything – including the people he met – made a big impression, which was reinforced during subsequent visits. When he launched his college search, Nick put SAU on the list. Another campus visit cinched his decision. "I felt at home here."

Nick Schaffner

Why SAU?

Challenging Experiences

Nick was seeking a pre-med education and decided to major in Chemistry, one of several programs that prepare our students for many medical programs. During his junior year – and with the full support of his professors – he applied for the summer research program to make sure medical school was the path he wanted to follow. "It taught me I really enjoy research," Nick says, adding he is now considering pursuing a PhD in chemistry or biomedical engineering, then a career in medical research. But he hasn't stopped there: a recent class in physical chemistry sparked another new interest for Nick to pursue. "There are just so many topics I can see investing my life into studying."

Read Nick's Research

chemistry club

How are you involved at SAU, and how has that changed you?

Nick is active in Chemistry Club, Biology Club, Disc Golf Club, and formerly helped with Dance Marathon. "The Chemistry Club is one of the closest groups on campus, and one of the best. All of the members are super friendly," he says. Once a month, they gather for a casual 'Eating Pizza Committee of the Chemistry Club' meeting, each time at a different pizzeria. Chemistry faculty strive to spark curiosity and professional ties via field trips such as traveling to American Chemical Society meetings and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. "They are a tight-knit group of professors; the third floor of Lewis Hall really feels like home to me," Nick says.

Learn about Chemistry Club


What is the benefit of attending SAU?

"One of the things you learn at a smaller university is how important it is to build relationships, and the same is true in research," Nick says. For example, Nick was able to build relationships with the people running equipment he needed for research. "The personal aspect of a small school is helpful, and you get a good balance of learning things yourself and learning when to ask questions."


Why Choose the Chemistry Program?

Opportunities to Soar

There are so many ways to advance your education and get involved at St. Ambrose. First-year students can create and participate in research, and in later years, lead individual research projects. You can build on your education as a chemistry tutor, lab assistant, or with an internship, as well as help inspire the next generation of chemists at science camps or during National Chemistry Week. Most of all, our chemistry professors give you the resources and confidence to achieve your goals, whether it's medical school or launching a career. "At St. Ambrose, you get more attention than you would at a larger school. When I was in the [Colorado] research program, I didn't feel at all limited by my education. Being at a smaller school is the best of both worlds," he says.

SAU Chemistry Program

So, what's next?

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