Name: Kevin Theisen
Major(s) and Minor: Major in Chemistry, Minor in Computer Science
Why did you choose chemistry as your major?
I enjoyed sciences growing up and chemistry resonated the most with me in high school. It was the science that made the most sense to me. So when I matriculated at Rutgers University, I immediately declared chemistry as my major.
What did you like most about it?
The best part about studying chemistry is learning and interacting with the parts of the world you cannot see with your eyes. Biology can be observed with your eyes and physics models how the universe works, but in chemistry you are trying to understand the building blocks around you. What are atoms? What do molecules look like? What can we do with them? I was incredibly curious to know, and the Rutgers chemistry department provided many ways to investigate. Rutgers provides students with access to many analytical and spectroscopic methods, my favorite being nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The ability to “see” the atoms and molecules and the chemistry around me shaped my entire career.
What is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am the President of iChemLabs. We create software that facilitates the communication of complex scientific information between scientists and between scientists and computers. The freedom of running my own company provides me the luxury of pursuing the interesting projects I want to and when I want to, and that is what I enjoy most about it.
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
I started iChemLabs as an undergraduate at Rutgers University. Now iChemLabs is a successful company with clients all around the world.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
I started in organic chemistry courses my freshman year, so I was immediately introduced to spectroscopy, which was very interesting to me. It was trying to reverse engineer the spectra and create algorithms to simulate them that ultimately led me down my path.
The most significant contribution to my success from Rutgers was the support of the faculty. The chemistry department is large and many talented scientists are there to help students. Having been to many institutions, I can say that students aren’t always the first priority when research is concerned, but at Rutgers, there is a real concern for the success of the students. Faculty members like Dr. Heinz Roth, Dr. Roger Jones and Dr. Karsten Krogh-Jespersen must have wasted hours entertaining my personal programming projects. Their support encouraged me to continue.
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
Know the difference between pursuing knowledge for the sake of reaching a goal and pursuing knowledge because you enjoy it and are curious. It may take a while to fully discover who you are and what your interests are, but that is part of what college is about. The most successful individuals are masters at what they do. This is because they worked tirelessly to expand their knowledge and have significantly more experience than anyone else. This drive comes from a true passion to learn more about what interests you and to find answers to questions that no one else has yet answered. Rutgers is a great place to discover that passion.