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PhD Chemistry Alum turned Lawyer

Jeff Lomprey (PhD, ’93).  After graduating from UK in 1993, I held two postdoc positions: Dartmouth College (1993-1995; Russell Hughes) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1995-1996; Mac Toth).  Following the Oak Ridge position, in 1997, I was lured to Gentex Corporation by former UK Professor of Chemistry, Tom Guarr, to work on the development of and improvements for the company’s electrochromic review mirrors.  One of the major challenges at that time was producing mirrors with a predictable extended lifetimes.  Working with Tom, we developed additives to the electrochromic solutions in the mirrors that would, in essence, provide a buffer within the electrochromic system maintaining an electrochemical balance in the mirror.  The project was successful and the company continues to this day to incorporate the technology that Tom and I developed nearly 20 years ago.

Working for Gentex allowed me to explore cutting edge technologies and to be more involved in the business side of chemistry.  As part of that I gained exposure to the patent system.  A number of the projects that I worked on at Gentex ended up with technological developments that were patented by Gentex, and I began to get involved in the patent drafting and to experience what patents could do for a company.  In 2002, I decided to leave Gentex and return to school, this time law school at the University of Wisconsin.  After my second year of law school I interned with the law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP in their Madison, Wisconsin office.  That move proved to be a long time commitment and I have now been with Foley, first as an associate, and now as a partner, for a total of 13+ years. 

While I may practice patent law, I still consider myself a chemist.  I get to work with inventors on new chemical technologies (primarily in the polymer, battery, small molecule, and catalyst space), and I enjoy seeing the results of their efforts in the newest technologies from the catalyst systems to some of the most exciting pharmaceutical advances.  I have the opportunity to counsel clients with regard the entire intellectual property system (patents, trademarks, and copyrights).  In addition to working with clients to secure patents, I also counsel them with regard to infringement, validity, patentability and freedom to operate issues.  I have found that patent law allows me to remain a chemist while assisting individuals and companies to further their own business interests.

About 2 years ago, I was contacted by Mark Meier to participate in the newly forming UK Chemistry Department Alumni Committee.  One of the first projects that we were involved with was the Alumni Reunion that was held in conjunction with the opening of the new Don & Cathy Jacobs Science Building in the fall of 2016.  The primary focus of the Committee has been to engage with alumni to become (or remain) active with the Department, and to engage with current students.  Each of the years that we have held fall meetings, there has been an opportunity to interact with current students and talk with them about what they can do with a chemistry degree, and to be a resource for the students as they go through school and look at their future after completing, or at least taking a break from, their academic career.   As Chair of the UK Chemistry Alumni Committee, I would like to invite anyone who is a graduate of the chemistry program at any level to contact the department about joining us at the meetings, provide any ideas you may have with regard to topics that you would like for us to consider, and to share your experiences and expertise with the current UK chemistry students.