Senior Spotlight: Ryan Skaar

by Ashley Dalsing, Special to The Simpsonian

Ryan Skaar has been known as the sharp 3-point shooter on the men’s basketball team for the last four years by his teammates, coaches and peers. What most people don’t know is that Skaar is looking to change the world of medicine by working in pharmaceutical research.

Jayde Vogeler, Photography Editor/The Simpsonian
Ryan Skaar

“After I graduate this year, I plan to attend graduate school to work towards receiving my Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences,” Skaar said. “I’m currently looking and visiting the graduate school programs at Michigan, Purdue, Kansas and Vanderbilt.”

How many athletes do you know who are pursuing a career in medicine or are aspiring of getting a Ph.D.?

It’s already hard enough to be a college athlete with the pre- and post-season training, in-season practices and games – it’s a lot of time, dedication and wear and tear on the body.

“It’s a lot of work, obviously, and a lot of time management skills come into play when you have to juggle everything,” Skaar said. “I try to leave game days for game days and an hour or so to shoot before or after practice, but I’m usually up pretty late finishing up homework or studying for tests. My roommate Brook Thompson knows this firsthand.”

Skaar attributed his success on and off the court to the other five seniors with whom he started freshman year.

“We’ve all become really close over the years and we’ve truly gone through this from the beginning, together,” he said. “These are going to be my lifelong friends.”

Skaar was recruited heavily in high school by the coaching staff from the Simpson men’s basketball team, but that wasn’t the only thing that attracted him to Simpson College.

“When I came to visit campus, I met with Dr. (Derek) Lyons and we talked about different majors I could pursue, what I could get involved in and even the research they were doing here,” he said.

“I wasn’t as excited about the other college’s academic programs that I visited as I was about Simpson’s,” Skaar said, referring to Central College and Luther College.

Skaar’s family has always been very driven toward science. “My dad [a professor at Iowa State University] hated chemistry, so I decided to study it in college,” Skaar joked. “Dr. Lyons really fueled my passion to researching more into developing pharmaceutical drugs, so I started researching other colleges’ and universities’ programs as I went through my studies at Simpson.”

Skaar’s future plans are to work for a pharmaceutical company to research, discover and design drugs for cancer patients.