Sister Patricia Shaffer, Ph.D. has spent her career helping women in San Diego County. She has encouraged women to study science as a research chemist, university professor, nun, and member of scientific associations. She first became a chemistry instructor in 1959 at the San Diego College for Women, continuing at the University of San Diego to the present day as an innovative teacher, professor and active member of the campus community and ministry. In organizations such as Graduate Women in Science and the Association for Women in Science, she has been a leader and mentor within the male-dominated discipline of chemistry.
She has served as a role model and inspiration by rising to prominence in her career as a research chemist and recipient of dozens of grants and fellowships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many grants have been from the American Chemical Society’s SEED Program (Summer Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged) that provides opportunities for high school students to learn on the job. Her important research on asparaginase, an enzyme used in leukemia chemotherapy, will continue to help fight this disease. Her influence extends beyond the world of chemistry--as a nun in the Religious of the Sacred Heart, a teaching order--and in her concern for children: she works for orphanages in Tijuana and with migrant children in California farming communities. She is also a leader in USD’s Founder’s Club, an organization of USD’s Religious of the Sacred Heart devoted to community service.