Sandra Koster

Senior Lecturer
Chemistry And Biochemistry
Office hours
4003 Cowley Hall

Specialty area(s)

Organic Chemistry


Laboratory Safety

Brief biography

I'm a first generation college graduate from the University of Michigan.  I attended middle school and high school in a suburb of St. Louis after moving around a lot before that. I got interested in chemistry in high school where we did lots of cool stuff.  I can't say it was all that safe; lots of hydrogen sulfide in the room during the qual analysis we did and there was that ether fire when the separatory funnel with ether in it and a bunsen burner were sharing the same ring stand.  That one student did a pretty impressive leap to get out of the way.  Maybe that's where I first developed my interest in lab safety. 

My husband and I have 3 grown children, all doing very different things, one in Onalaska, one in Rochester and one in the Twin Cities.   And we now have a beautiful, active toddler granddaughter. 

We also have 2 cats and a few fish as well as a hobby farm northwest of Holmen with a good-sized garden.

Current courses at UWL

This semester I have one section of CHM 300 lab (Survey of Organic Chemistry), one section of CHM 305 (Organic Chemistry Laboratory) and one section of CHM 103 lab (First Semester Freshman Chemistry). 

I pretty much always teach CHM 305 but then the rest of my schedule may include some combination of 300, 103 or 104 labs.  I have been known to teach a lecture class or a CHM 100 lab if there is a need.

Teaching history

In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I was a TA for an analytical lab and organic labs before I focused on research.

My next teaching opportunity was at the University of South Carolina at Aiken, a small school in the state of South Carolina system where I taught Organic Chemistry lectures and lab and an occasional freshman lab.  I also taught some courses in chemistry especially geared towards nursing students.  I was a tenured Associate Professor when we made the jump back to the midwest.

I started filling in here at UW-L as needed and have been full time since l996.  I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2009.

Professional history

I worked as a Research Assistant at Monsanto in St. Louis for a couple of summers during my undergrad years.  I was working on additives to the paper making process to increase its wet strength. 

After receiving my Ph.D. I was hired as a Research Chemist by Amoco Chemicals.  I worked for a year to help develop and modify a polymer that would have enough strength and thermal stability to be used in things like brake pads.  Like many Organic Chemistry graduates, I became a polymer chemist.  One time they sent me to do a polymer short course at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York.  Pretty sweet.  And the money is great in industry.  We got a lot of restaurant meals, a color TV and a new truck before moving to Aiken and back into academia.

Research and publishing

C. S. Wang, S. K. Koster for Amoco Chemicals, “Branched polyphenylene-polyphenylene sulfide blends”, Patent #U.S. 4,202,951, May 13, 1980

S. K. Koster, C. S. Wang, E. W. Blaha for Amoco Chemicals, “Process for forming branched nitropolyphenylene”, Patent #U.S. 4,059,719, Nov. 22, 1977

L. A. Wendling, S. K. Koster, J. E. Murray, R. West, “The Synthesis and Properties of 1,2- and 1,3-Diquinocyclobutanediones“, J. Org. Chem., 42, 1126, (1977)

R. West, S. K. Koster, D. C. Zecher and D. Eggerding, “Diquinocyclopropanones, Diquinoethylenes and the Anion Radical and Free Radical Intermediates in Their Formations“, J. Org. Chem., 42, 1126 (1977)

S. Koster and R. West, “Synthesis and Reactions of a Tetraquinocyclobutane”, J. Org. Chem., 40, 2300 (1975)

S. Koster and R. West, “Synthesis of a Tetraquinocyclobutane”, Chem. Commun. 1971, 1380

Since returning to academia at UW-L I have confined my research efforts to in-house work on new or modified organic and freshman chemistry lab experiments.  Lots of them.


B.S. in Chemistry with honors, University of Michigan (main campus at Ann Arbor) 1969

Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, working under Prof. Robert West, Thesis: "A Tetraquinocyclobutane and some Aryl and Quinonoidal Derivatives of Squaric Acid"