Life Science Researcher and Entrepreneur to Speak at Commencement
April 25, 2018
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Kirk Schroeder ’84, the co-founder of two life science companies,
will deliver Illinois Wesleyan University’s Commencement address on Sunday, May 6.
The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. in the Shirk Activity Center (302 E. Emerson
St, Bloomington). New this year, a real-time translation of the ceremony will be offered
to guests in both Mandarin and Spanish. Commencement will also be live streamed, both
domestically (www.iwu.edu/live) and internationally.
After graduating from Illinois Wesleyan in 1984 with a degree in physics, Schroeder
earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign in 1986 with an emphasis in optical engineering. Schroeder first
worked as a research engineer with the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan
(ERIM) where he contributed to Department of Defense remote sensing applications.
In 1992 he, along with Brad Neagle, co-founded his first company which invented, manufactured
and commercialized the first high-throughput cell-based drug screening system in the
life science industry, FLIPR®. This company and technology was purchased in 1996 by
Molecular Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, California.
In 1999, Schroeder co-founded a second company, Essen Bioscience of Ann Arbor, Michigan,
for which he served as president and CEO for 16 years. During that time, Schroeder
oversaw the organic growth of Essen into a global company with employees and facilities
in the U.S., Europe and Japan. As a leading innovator in the development of laboratory
instruments and software, Essen’s inventions included analytical instruments for making
electrical measurements on living cells, IonWorks®, as well as the real-time imaging
system IncuCyte®. Essen Bioscience was purchased by Sartorius AG of Germany in the
spring of 2017.
After more than 25 years of managing his companies, Schroeder has now redirected his
energy toward technical consulting in life science research. He is also actively involved
in developing and sponsoring philanthropic programs to advance life science research
and course curriculum at the undergraduate collegiate level.