Wilson Lecture

Dr. Leland Wilson

About the Leland Wilson Lectureship

Professor Leland Wilson, as first department head and professor in the Department of Chemistry for more than 20 years, left a legacy of professionalism and integrity that the faculty and staff in the department continue to sustain.

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 ensure 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.

Patrick Fier

2022 Lecture

On November 3, 2022, Dr. Patrick Fier, Principal Scientist at Merck, presented a lecture titled "The Importance of Organic Chemistry in Developing New Medicines."

Dr. Fier is a Principal Scientist at Merck and led the effort to develop molnupiravir to treat SARS-CoV-2.

After completing his BS degree in Chemistry at UNI, Dr. Fier joined the lab of Dr. John Hartwig and completed his PhD from University of California at Berkeley. He then joined Merck & Co. where he developed several new techniques for making medicines.

In 2021, the American Chemical Society recognized Dr. Fier as one of its Talented 12, identifying him as a “manufacturing magician” who creates chemical transformations to scale up drug syntheses. The Talented 12 recognizes early career chemists doing research that has global impact

Leland Wilson
Leland Wilson

About Leland Wilson

Professor Leland Wilson, a native of Kentucky, joined the UNI faculty in 1955. Prior to coming to UNI, Wilson was a high school science teacher in Kentucky and Florida.

During his 24 years at UNI, Wilson taught physical science and chemistry, 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. With an infectious smile and an easy-going style, Wilson was able to motivate even the most reluctant students to expect more of themselves.

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

Dr. Bill Harwood, Head
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls IA 50614-0423
Telephone: 319-273-2052
E-mail: bill.harwood@uni.edu 


Patrick Fier, principal scientist at Merck


Dr. Greg Smith, Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields


  • Dr. Eric Scerri, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Dr. Jennifer SternSpace Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.
  • Dr. Auriel A. Willette, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Psychology, and Biomedical Sciences at Iowa State University.
  • 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.
  • Dr. Kimryn Rathmell, Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology and Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.
  • Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Dr. Paul Kelteraward-winning teacher and researcher in Chemistry Education.
  • Dr. Melanie SanfordArthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan
  • Dr. Harry B. Gray, Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology.
  • Dr. R. Graham Cooks, Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Purdue University.
  • Dr. John Warner, President and Chief Technology Office Warner/Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.
  • Dr. Richard Zare, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • Dr. Geri Richmond, Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon
  • Dr. Paul G. Wenthold, Associate Professor, Purdue University
  • Dr. Charles D. Huss, Staff Emergency Department Physician, Mercy Hospital, Iowa City
  • Dr. Nancy Wilson Ashbach, M.D., M.B.A., Professor of Health Policy, University of Denver, Family Physician
  • Dr. John Talley, Microbia, Inc
  • Dr. Becky Lewis, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Inc.
  • Dr. M. Dale Hawley, Professor of Chemistry, Kansas State University
  • Dr. Steven M. Heilmann, Corporate Scientist, 3M Corporate Research
  • Dr. Mark J. Kurth, Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Robert D. Koob, President, University of Northern Iowa
  • Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Iowa