Sometimes life hands you happy coincidences. Tom Kupiec laughs about his college-age choice to wait until summer to enroll at University of Central Oklahoma for the coming fall. Everything was full except for night classes. Attending classes in the evening freed his days to work as a medical assistant in a doctor’s office.
“You could say I caught the bug. My interest in the medical field was sparked that first semester by two things,” says Kupiec. At the doctor’s office he got to see how testing and diagnosis were performed. “I also took a chemistry class that first semester with Dr. Hellwege. That class was really tough; however, I was being prepared for the next step. At the end of that semester, I loved chemistry and knew I wanted to continue in the health sciences field.”
Dr. Kupiec has never stopped the brutal pace of working nearly 12 hours a day. He earned his bachelor’s in chemistry and master’s in education/chemistry from UCO and graduated with a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. Kupiec began his career as a forensic chemist for the Oklahoma City Police Department, then worked as a research chemist for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has published, lectured and led studies in pharmaceutical sciences, forensic sciences and pharmacogenomics since 1991.
His entrepreneurial instincts were well served by his strong work ethic. In 1998, he founded ARL Bio Pharma, a contract laboratory, to provide analytical and microbiological testing for the pharmaceutical industry. He acquired DNA Solutions, a human and animal genetics testing facility, in 2000 and established The Kupiec Group in 2005. The three companies are headquartered in Oklahoma City, have earned multiple awards for growth and performance and employ 150 people, many at the graduate level.
Dr. Kupiec attributes another happy coincidence to his ongoing success in his field of choice.
“I selected the University of Central Oklahoma because it was nearby,” adds Kupiec. “I didn’t realize at the time that it was an exceptional college for chemistry, one of the best in the country – right in my own backyard. As an employer, I think it’s important for Oklahoma to continue providing exceptional education to our young people close to home. Our regional universities do an amazing job preparing students for demanding and fulfilling careers. Those who attend a regional university are more likely to stay in Oklahoma – I think that’s one key element for growing our educated workforce and economic development.”