Langmack discovered a future in chemistry

Brendan Langmack came to Cornell College for a pre-med course of study. After a few blocks he connected so strongly with Cornell’s chemistry faculty that he discovered a passion for chemistry—and ultimately a different course for his future. 

Brendan Langmack“Studying chemistry is very rewarding. The hard work you put in during class, doing homework, and in lab turns into a world of opportunity,” says the senior chemistry major and physics minor. 

His performance and effort in organic chemistry coursework was rewarded by his professors suggesting he do an internship in the field. The organic chemistry sequence set him up for what he calls “an awesome internship” at AbbVie after his sophomore year, when he conducted research for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative.

“That was a huge step for me in figuring out what I wanted to pursue professionally in chemistry: small molecule pharmaceutical design,” he says. “I’ve had such outstanding interactions with chemistry faculty and I’m so glad I chose this route for my career.”

One of the faculty members he cites as influential is William Deskin Professor of Chemistry Cynthia Strong.

“She [Professor Strong] really makes you feel at ease with the material and has a very calming vibe about her, which I need to explore my potential. She’s supremely rational and wise,” he says. “I really appreciate the faculty here at Cornell, who ensure that hard work is rewarded by life-changing experiences.” 

Langmack feels fortunate that Cornell’s chemistry department is certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for the professional training of chemists at the undergraduate level, and he has taken the extra steps to declare an ACS-certified chemistry major. That will help him stand out as he applies to graduate chemistry programs.

As hard as he works as a chemistry major, Langmack says that compared to high school, “chemistry is so much easier on the block plan. You really get to dive into the material and embrace it. When you’re balancing a bunch of subjects it can be difficult to switch between different modes of thinking. Scientific reasoning is more quantitative; it’s also quite analytical. Yet it still relies on a robust history of experimentation and literature. It’s certainly different from what I experienced in my Hellenistic Art class, which allowed me to express my personal interpretations of ancient artwork from civilizations near the Mediterranean Sea.”

Brendan Langmack receives the Paul Maaske Scholar-Athlete Award from Athletic Director Keith Hackett.
Brendan Langmack receives the Paul Maaske Scholar-Athlete Award from Athletic Director Keith Hackett.

There is another reason Langmack came to Cornell from from Olathe, Kansas, and that is the lacrosse team. He is the team captain and this fall was honored with the Paul Maaske Scholar-Athlete Award, presented annually to one male and one female student-athlete who in their junior year earned a varsity letter and achieved the highest GPA.

He’s also involved in the Chemistry club, is a chemistry tutor, and was a Peer Advocate for the Class of 2022. 

“Cornell always has something going on and my closest friends are no more than a five minute walk away. The student life here is inclusive, diverse, and constructive,” he says.

Not surprisingly, Langmack is a big fan of the new Russell Science Center. You might think his favorite spot is one of the state-of-the-art labs with natural lighting. But it’s not.

“My favorite spot on campus has to be the top floor of Russell Science. The windows facing the elementary school look out over the rolling Iowa hills, and the view is always in flux,” he says. “From day to night, fall to spring, block to block, we as students are privileged to have a beautiful spot to study. Especially when the sun is setting!”

Brendan Langmack
Brendan Langmack (at right) works with Chemistry Professor Jai Shanata ’05 and another student last year in the Russell Science Center Fourth Floor lounge.