Fuller lives through chemistry

Cheyanne Lehnert never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Robert Fuller, but his life and the generosity of his family have inspired her immeasurably.

Lehnert, a chemistry major, was wrapping up her final weeks in the honours program, when she received a surprising, but welcome, message in her inbox.

"I got an e-mail informing me that I received the Robert A. Fuller Memorial Scholarship. I was super excited. I phoned my mom and said ‘guess what?' It was a surprise! I wasn't expecting it at all!" she said.

Robert Arthur Fuller was born in Moosomin, SK, and his interest in chemistry brought him to the U of S in 1944. After earning his BA in chemistry in 1949 and an MA in physical chemistry the next year from the U of S, he earned his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Minnesota. It was also at the U of S where he met his wife Maureen Colbeck (BA'48).

Fuller further built his expertise after leaving academia serving as a research director for Johnson & Johnson Canada. From there, he continued with Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, working as corporate vice-president of the Office of Science and Technology. In this role, he was responsible for all research and development, including joint and sponsored research at a number of universities from around the world.

No matter where his career or life took him, Fuller never forgot about what the U of S meant to his career and what it would mean to future chemistry students. He continuously contributed to the university, spanning decades, donating to a variety of initiatives through the years. In 1996, he established the Maureen Fuller Memorial Lecture in the College of Medicine in honour of his wife.

Fuller passed away in 2012, after a life of storied accomplishments and many years with his family. Fuller's children, Tom, Barbara and Lynn wanted to ensure that their father's legacy would endure and inspire U of S students. They decided to continue their father's generosity and support his love of chemistry in his memory. With these principles in mind, his children established the Dr. Robert A. Fuller Memorial Scholarship in Chemistry in December 2014.

"We are delighted to provide this scholarship in honour of our father, whose very successful career began at the University of Saskatchewan," said Tom, speaking on behalf of the Fuller family. "His career centered on research and development, and we know he would be very pleased that a scholarship aiding students in their study of chemistry has been established in his name at his alma mater."

The scholarship recognizes outstanding academic achievement and provides financial assistance to a chemistry major. Cheyanne Lehnert is the inaugural recipient, receiving $6,000 this spring.

Without ever having the opportunity to cross paths, Fuller and Lehnert's stories intersect at the passion for the scientific discipline that brought them to the U of S in the first place.

Having always excelled in the sciences throughout her academic career, studying chemistry at the U of S was the next frontier for Lehnert to explore. After completing a two-year diploma program at SIAST, she came to the U of S to expand her knowledge and develop a broad base of chemistry knowledge.

Despite unquestionable dedication and talent in her discipline, Lehnert still had to face the all-too-familiar financial obstacles, resulting in paying back debt incurred from student loans. She recognizes that the Fuller family, through this scholarship, are champions for U of S students. "It takes a weight off. I now have a jumpstart on paying back my student loans," Lehnert said. "Receiving this scholarship was a huge affirmation of my hard work and dedication to this program. It reinforces that I want to continue not just striving for the best grades, but to make a difference in my field."

A native of Biggar, SK, Lehnert now has her sights set on working in Saskatchewan's inorganic chemistry sector, working in labs at uranium and potash mines, testing products to ensure they meet specifications requested by customers. She held a summer job working at the Saskatchewan Research Council Environmental Analytical Laboratories, where she performed water analysis to trace contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, and petroleum products.

The Dr. Robert A. Fuller Memorial Scholarship in Chemistry not only provided financial stimulus, but it also inspired Lehnert to uphold the standard of excellence, giving, and commitment to the U of S that Dr. Fuller established.

"It makes me want to get a job that means something and try to give back to chemistry, or eventually give back to the university when I am financially able," Lehnert said. "For the Fullers to believe in this university, and believe in the chemistry program specifically, is special. It makes me want to do this for someone else because they did it for me."

If you would like to establish an award in honour of a family member or loved one, please contact:

Advancement & Community Engagement

University of Saskatchewan

Phone: (306) 966-5186

Toll free: 1-800-699-1907

Email:  giving@usask.ca
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