Cornell chemistry research prepares Shanata for Cal Tech
Jai Shanata ’05 found his passion for chemistry at Cornell and went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry at Cal Tech, one of the world’s top research universities. In 2011, he became an assistant professor of chemistry at Loyola University in New Orleans, La. Shanata had decided at the age of eight to become a surgeon one day, but his first semester at Cornell opened his eyes to other possibilities.
“Charley Liberko, and the Cornell chemistry department as a whole, were unbelievably supportive of me from my first chemistry class,” he says.
By the end of his first year, he had taken three “influential” chemistry courses. And during his first summer break he began working in Liberko’s lab, studying the synthesis and properties of cyanine dimers.
“The enthusiasm with which Charley approached his work was contagious,” he says. “Charley would patiently discuss his research and navigate us through the subtleties of organic chemistry, then challenge us to take the next step and apply these concepts to our research.
“For me, the combined experiences in coursework and summer research at Cornell made me fall in love with chemistry.”
Shanata says the rigor and focus of his Cornell courses and lab work prepared him very well for the intensity of Cal Tech. But he enjoyed courses in “a fascinating diversity of disciplines” at Cornell.
“One Course At A Time not only made it possible to graduate with three majors in four years, but provided me with ample time to take classes in my other areas of interest, such as philosophy, music, and education,” he says.