Alumni News from Reed Magazine, September 2015

The search for alumni news continued in The Art of the Conference in the September issue of the Reed magazine. Conferences have held a time-honored place in chemistry courses for at least 50 years, but the conduct of “conference” has always been malleable, embracing whatever tweaks seemed in the interest of students and subject matter at the time. Over the years, problem-solving, group work, and more, have all found places under the Conference Tent.

My first glimpse of a chemistry alum came with decidedly mixed feelings on p. 1 of the magazine, the Table of Contents. The Table was topped with pictures of the 12 members of the Class of 2015 being profiled in the What Is a Reedie Anyway? feature on p. 26. Smack in the middle, with his trademark tinted hair, off-kilter hat, and ever-present smile was a photo of the late Mark Angeles ’15. Sadly, Mark was taken away from us only a few days after his graduation when a truck struck him and his bicycle in a fatal collision. As I read the profile of Mark on p. 37, I was reminded of the wonderful things that Reedies accomplish during their four years at Reed. Mark’s life was filled with gusto and joy, and he shared his passion for living with an open heart. Mark’s family and friends have established a very fitting memorial: the Angeles Fellowship that will “support a SEEDS student intern, whose work on campus continues Mark’s legacy of volunteerism and commitment to physical engagement as a component of service.”

Surprises awaited me in the Letters to Reed feature. John Graef ’60 wrote in (“Triumph on the Slopes”) to share his sadness over a recently deceased classmate and ski buddy, Terry Chase ’59, and also to tell us about his participation in a dorm prank during his freshman year. The prank, a classic one that has been repeated countless times on countless campuses, involved stacking #10 cans in front of the dorm door so that they covered the doorway. The target of Graef et al. was Prof. John Hancock [chemistry 1955-89] who maintained living quarters in the dorm. The confrontation between pranksters, the “curtain” of cans blocking the doorway, and the returning prof unfolded in true Hancockian fashion, “he was characteristically unruffled, reached out the handle of his ever-present umbrella, and pulled out one of the bottom cans [emphasis added]. There ensued the most deafening din in the history of the school when those empty cans hit the floor in the corridor. He calmly stepped over the pile of cans and went into his room without a word.” Another letter writer, the retired Prof. Angela Ayres [Spanish 1966-73] reminded the magazine’s editor (“Corrections”) that her late husband’s name was Fred, and not Frederick. The mistaken moniker had appeared in the In Memoriam section of the June 2015 issue.

Reed Profs Win $2.2 Million in Grants, Set 10-Year Record (p. 10) gave a respectful nod towards Prof. Rebecca LaLonde ’01 [chemistry 2013-], the recipient of a $40,000 grant from the Research Corporation.

Two pages later, the magazine traded on family relationships to sneak the names of two Reed chemists into a news article. The article not only introduced Deborah Kamali ’85 as one of two New Trustees, it also revealed that she was the spouse of Reed chemistry alum Kevan Shokat ’86 and the parent of future chemistry alum Mitra Shokat ’18.

Organic chemistry got a special shout-out from graduate Will Horner ’15, as part of his profile in What Is a Reedie Anyway? Describing the Obstacles I overcame, Will pointed to a frustrating performance in the early weeks of o chem, and his eventual solution, “working many, many long nights in the library, I finally put the pieces together.”

Class Notes informed us that James Gaw ’59, who is currently teaching chemistry, kayaking, and skiing, recently returned from a sabbatical (#3) divided between Denmark, a town in Western Australia and Tasmania … Claire Trageser ’05 and Seth Hall celebrated their wedding with several Reedies in attendance (photo, p. 46) … while back in 2013 Ian MacDonald ’10 and 15 other Reedies celebrated the wedding of Richard Beaumont ’08 and Michelle Christiansen (photo, p. 46) … and, finally, news that Megan Brophy ’10 had received her PhD in biological chemistry from MIT, and moved back west to start a postdoc in fall 2015. Congratulations, Megan!

In Memoriam told us of several Reed chemists, old and young, who had passed away in 2015. In brief,

  • Derrol Elwood Pennington ’38, deceased January 8, 2015 in Milwaukie, Oregon. Derrol and his brother both attended Reed, day-dodging from the West Hills. Derrol worked in the chemistry lab to help pay for tuition. After earning his PhD in biochemistry and microbiology at U. Texas-Austin and completing military service in WWII, Derrol made his way through teaching and industrial jobs until he reached Tektronix where he forged a life-long friendship with Howard Vollum ’36. Derrol and his wife Dorothy loved classical music, among various pursuits, and donated an 18th-century cello to the Reed music department.
  • Joseph Frederick Bunnett ’42, [chemistry, 1946-52], and former Reed College trustee, deceased May 23, 2015. Joe grew up in Portland and entered Reed with a host of classmates from Washington High School. Joe met Sara Telfer ’42 at a new student dance mixer in fall 1938 (“a good dancer,” he noted). They married after graduation and would be together until Sara’s death in 2006. Joe’s accomplishments in chemistry are too vast to mention here (see Remembering Trustee, Professor Joseph Bunnett ’42, and also Joseph Bunnett ’42 through the eyes of Rebecca Braslau ’81), but they included long-term tenured positions at Brown and UC Santa Cruz, plus many visiting positions around the world, the founding and editing of an ACS journal, transformational research discoveries, and even more numerous awards and honors. Joe served as a Reed trustee for 27 years, and he and Sara established the Annie Jordan Harrison Memorial Scholarship at Reed. He had a delightful and legendary sense of humor (see blog links above), and this blog was his inspiration. Every time he visited campus for a trustees meeting he would stop by my office for a short chat, and, if he remembered, he would gently urge me to start some kind of alumni newsletter or bulletin so that the chemistry department would stay connected with its graduates. (see Jan. 25 update below)
  • Michael Mercy ’87, and former Reed College trustee, deceased May 13, 2015 in Boise, Idaho. Mike came to Reed from Boise, and quickly made his mark, learning to fence, whisking the Doyle Owl away from its SCA protectors, helping found the African American Student Union, and, perhaps most epic of all, helping bury an MG Midget under the Hauser library. Mike also found time to double major in chemistry and biology. He went on to earn an MD in 1992 at Johns Hopkins, and then became chief resident of their hospital before returning to Idaho to continue his medical practice. Mike’s family and friends called attention to his ability to “create immediate connections” with the people he met, and his “deep compassion,” attributes that he brought to his work as a Reed College trustee for 8 years.
  • Mark James Martinez Angeles ’15, deceased May 27, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. For more information on Mark and his Reed career, see the story at top of this news post.

January 25 update – Joe Bunnett ’42 was the founding editor of Accounts of Chemical Research. The Journal just celebrated its 50th birthday this week, and the current editor, Cynthia Burrows, reflected on how the journal started and how it has evolved,

Founding editor Joseph Bunnett envisioned a forum for short descriptions of a research project summarizing and analyzing a series of papers from the author’s laboratory. An Account is more than a review article, and less than one, too. … 

Bunnett’s concept of an Account was far ahead of its time. In 1968, there was no other article type like this. In recent years, many journals have adopted “perspectives” and “tutorial reviews,” both of which have features in common with Accounts, and now there is great competition among journals to attract the very best authors. …

Issue 1 of Volume 1 included only four articles authored by William S. Johnson (Nonenzymatic biogenic-like olefinic cyclizations), Mostafa El-Sayed (Triplet state. Its radiative and nonradiative properties), Roald Hoffmann and Robert B. Woodward (Conservation of orbital symmetry), and Theodore Brown (Nuclear magnetic resonance studies of organometallic exchange processes).

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