Chris Senanayake smiling in a black shirt

Successful chemistry alumnus makes pipeline for Wayne State University students

Chris Senanayake chose Wayne State University for his Ph.D. program, and served as a postdoctoral fellow, with Professor Carl R. Johnson as his mentor and Dr. Jim Rigby as his Ph.D. advisor. Senanayake is now the vice president of chemical development at Boehringer Ingelheim, where he leads a group of 80 people and collaborates with scientists all over the world.

Besides being part of alumni panels at Wayne State, Senanayake has developed patents, contributed to more than 400 publications in the world of organic chemistry and has written book chapters and review articles in many areas of synthetic organic chemistry, drug development, and the design of improved chemical entities.  

Senanayake is passionate about sharing his knowledge with others. He enjoys mentoring WSU students and has created an internship program for these students, as well.

Wayne State chemistry student Christine Arbour had an opportunity to intern at Boehringer Ingelheim under Senanayake. Arbour was able to get hands-on experience and contributed to a publication in the Organic Letters journal. 

“From working with Dr. Senanayake, along with the rest of the chemical development team, I was able to gain a familiarization with the pharmaceutical industry. This not only enhanced my scientific knowledge but also provided me with a large network of professional connections.” 

Senanayake credits much of his success to Wayne State University. When asked what advice he would give to chemistry students at WSU he said, “Take the opportunities to engage with internships, make connections with Wayne State collaborators, but also people outside of the community. Do not be afraid to diversify your experiences.”

Written by CLAS communications associate Christiana Castillo