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Alumnus Simon Shannon honored as TRIO Achiever

Alumnus Simon K. Shannon, Ph.D., was honored as a TRIO Achiever by the Mid-America Association of Education Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP). Shannon received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2003, under the tutelage of Professor George Barany.

Shannon is currently a product developer in 3M’s Industrial Mineral Products Division. He holds 11 U.S. patents, has nine peer-reviewed publications, and supports the development of a number of products inspired by problems from biotechnology, healthcare, and materials science.

As a graduate research assistant from 1998 to 2003, Shannon worked on the development of solid-phase backbone amide linker strategies for the synthesis of lidocaine and procainamide combinatorial libraries (antiarrhythmic and local anesthetic drugs). He also developed new quantitative and colorimetric methods for monitoring aldehydes on solid-phase, and designed alternative linker strategies for mild solid-phase synthesis of C-terminal modified peptides, cyclic peptides, and other amide-containing small molecules.

In addition to his professional life, Shannon is a mentor and leader in several organizations, including the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and the 3M African American Network. He also is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is involved with his community through motivating future scientists through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives and coaching youth sports.

Shannon credits the McNair Scholars Program for providing the foundation that molded him into the scientist, professional, mentor, leader and community servant that he is today. He was in the McNair program during the summers of 1996 and 1997.

In an interview with the Department of Chemistry, Shannon noted: “Through the McNair Scholars Program, I had my first introductions to the chemistry department working in the lab of Professor Barany. I gained experience with technical writing and presenting. I got initial exposure to teaching. I learned how to build a network that eventually led to acceptance in the University of Minnesota graduate program. As a graduate student in Dr. Barany's group, I was groomed to be an organic chemist. During my time in graduate school, I became a leader; I was exposed to international travel and research conferences; and I built a professional network of research scientists with similar goals and ideals as mine. I have used the same training and skills in my previous and current roles.”

Shannon thanked his mentor Professor Barany during his award speech, “Thank you, Dr. Barany for appointing me to lead your lab as a senior lab manager, and instilling in me the motto that ‘nothing is hard, but everything takes time.’”

Shannon was the first in his immediate and extended family to receive a college degree. He and his wife, Bridgette Shannon, Ph.D., have two sons.

The federal TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services to people from low-income families, are first-generation college student, or are individuals with disabilities. The MAEOPP encompasses Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.