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Schowen, Barbara

K. Barbara
Jetter Schowen, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Barbara Schowen
  • Director of the Honors Program at KU
  • First female science professor at Baker University
  • Sole female organic chemistry graduate student in her class at MIT
  • Coordinated summer undergraduate research participation programs in Chemistry for 18 years
  • 1997: recipient of WT Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 1996: received First Midwest American Chemical Society Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research 

Barbara Schowen is a native of Massachusetts where in 1960 she received the Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry (with Honors) from Wellesley College and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies.  She did her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1964 received the Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry with a minor in Biochemistry.

After twelve years as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, and ten years of teaching and research at the University of Kansas, she accepted the position of Associate Professor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies in the KU Department of Chemistry.  In 1995 she was promoted to Full Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. In these capacities, she was responsible for overseeing the undergraduate educational mission of the Department  as well as teaching courses in general and organic chemistry. She worked to establish honors sections in general and organic chemistry, to create and teach a senior-level undergraduate seminar course, and for the general improvement of laboratory instruction and instrumentation, as well as to encourage and facilitate the involvement of chemistry majors in research.

Dr. Schowen has been recognized nationally for her leadership role in publicizing the educational importance of undergraduate research for science majors and for her efforts in providing opportunities for science majors to engage in genuine research experiences during their undergraduate years. She was the co-PI for an NSF-sponsored national Workshop on Research in the Undergraduate Curriculum in 1990, co-organizer of a Symposium on Undergraduate Research held at the 1992 San Francisco National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and, in September of 1997, an invited speaker at a workshop devoted to assessing the value of research held at the National Academy of Science in Washington, DC.  At the University of Kansas, she was the coordinator of more eighteen years of highly successful funded summer undergraduate research participation programs in Chemistry, including NSF-URP and NSF-REU Site projects. The REU Site has been in continuous operation since 1988.  In 1996 she received the first Midwest Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research sponsored by the Sioux Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

As Chair of the KU Health Sciences Committee from 1984-1996, she served as the university's principal premedical advisor.  She was elected in 1988 to the Kansas Women's Hall of Fame and has received recognition from various student groups for excellence in teaching.  In August of 1997, she received a Kemper Fellowship from the Kansas City-based Kemper Foundation and the University of Kansas for excellence in undergraduate teaching and advising.

Dr. Schowen's research interests are in the area of organic, bioorganic, and biochemical reaction mechanisms. She is the author or co-author of numerous refereed articles and book chapters dealing largely with the application of solvent isotope effects to the understanding of biological chemical reactions involving proton-transfer catalysis.  Since 1988, she has presented papers dealing with undergraduate education at 20 regional or national meetings and symposia (13 invited).

In August 1996, Barbara Schowen  was named Director of the University of Kansas’ Honors Program,  a program designed to provide honors courses and specialized advising for 1200-1500 of the most promising and motivated of the University’s undergraduates.  She retained a half-time appointment in the Department of Chemistry where she taught both honors as well as classes of up to 450 organic and general chemistry students and continued to direct graduate research. Dr. Schowen retired from the University in 2003.

She is married to Richard L. Schowen, Solon Summerfield Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. They have two daughters and, two grandchildren.

  • Be more tolerant, less judgmental, more forgiving.
  • Be more purposeful in pursuing aims.
  • Delegate. 

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