The cover article for the March 2016 issue of Reed magazine carries the title, Patterns of Power, which alludes to the relationship between fashion and society. I would also encourage readers to check out What is a Successful College Education? There are, naturally, as many answers to this question as there are days in the lives of our students, but here’s something that has been on my mind: We are living in a world blanketed by information and misinformation. “Facts” are being shot at us from all directions, 24 hours every day, 7 days a week. The traditional roles of experts and reporters as the producers and conduits of “facts” are being challenged more and more, not just by interest groups trying to advance a particular agenda, but also by the ways we, the consumers of information, operate, that is, we increasingly rely on methods for information sharing that bypass the authentication that traditional information channels once afforded. In this “fact-filled” climate, a college education, it seems to me, must not only teach students how to think critically about the quality of the information they will receive, it must also teach them to appreciate the subconscious ways in which facts influence human thought. We are not the rational creatures we believe ourselves to be.
Readers looking for information on Reed chemists and chemistry can start on p. 3 with the story of Avo Gadro and Iodine as told by honorary chemist, Michael Lamm ’58 (Elemental Farce, Letters). A more serious note is struck in “Students Nab Prize for Work on ‘Hunger Hormone'” (Eliot Circular, p. 6) which describes the award-winning work of biochemist Eliotte Garling ’18, bio-psych major Lia Zallar ’16, and psych major Hannah Baumgartner ’16. Their research was carried out under the direction of psychology professor Paul Currie [2007-], and it demonstrates the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience. Yet another example of chemistry crossing disciplines can be found in Physics major builds a better brick (Eliot Circular, p. 8) which describes a foray into materials science by physics major Aiman Absar ’19. Absar and two Bangladeshi friends have found a way to recycle industrial by-products, bagasse and ash, to make affordable and sustainable construction materials. One last example of barrier-hopping (or maybe tunneling?) is provided by chemist and retired music professor, Virginia Hancock ’62, who helps lead the selection committee for fellowships awarded by the Kahan Performing Arts Fund (see Performers Win Kahan Fellowship, Eliot Circular, p. 9).
Several chemists found their way into the Class Notes section. Jeffrey Kovac ’70, a professor of chemistry at U. Tennessee, was recently elected to a six-year term as an at-large senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society (p. 33) … Derek Oldridge ’07 reported on earning his PhD from U. Penn in 2015, co-first author and prize-winning publications in Nature and Nature Genetics, and his return to medical school (p. 36) … a photo of Megan Brophy ’10 in the wedding party of Joni Dames ’08, and a photo of Ian MacDonald ’10 in the wedding party of Lisa Manson ’09 and Will Vickery ’10 appear on the same page (p. 36) … speaking of weddings, Paul Whittredge ’12 and Adrienne Lane ’11 were wed in “the hills of western Massachusetts on July 11, 2015 (photo p. 37) … and Michael Melesse ’08 can be seen in a photo celebrating the birthday of classmate Marushka Baoh ’09 (p. 37).
In Memoriam told us of several Reed chemists, old and young, who had recently passed away. In brief,
- Ellen L. Talman ’42, deceased September 9, 2015 in Hillsboro, Oregon. Ellen was born in Baker City, Oregon. She wrote her thesis under the direction of Prof. Leland Pence [chemistry 1939-45], and served as a noncommissioned officer in the US Marine Corps during WWII before earning MS and PhD degrees in biochemistry at the UO Medical School. Her scientific career took her to OHSU as a teacher and researcher, and also to the Oregon National Primate Research Center as a research scientist.
- Bonnie Robison ’49, deceased October 19, 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. Bonnie was born in Portland, Oregon. Her memories of Reed included Prof. Arthur Scott’s [chemistry 1937-67] lecture demonstrations (“many didn’t work but they were instructive and amusing”) and organic labs (“my worst experience at Reed was Saturday all-day Organic Lab session in the attic of Eliot Hall. The air would be blue with fumes”). She wrote her thesis under the direction of Prof. Josef Bunnett [chemistry 1946-52], and later moved to Rhode Island when he offered her a job as his chemistry research assistant at Brown University. She eventually earned a master’s degree at Brown in pharmacology and lived in Rhode Island for the rest of her life.
- Ann Volkmann Dick ’50, deceased November 1, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ann was born in Brussels, Belgium to American parents who returned Stateside in 1937 to avoid the deepening crisis in Europe. A classmate at the Putney boarding school in Vermont suggested to Ann that she attend Reed, and she took that advice as it allowed her to continue competitive skiing while pursuing her college education. Ann ultimately spent 5 years at Reed earning a dual degree in chemistry and botany, and found time to serve on student council, square dance, sing madrigals, perform in a Gilbert & Sullivan production, and meet her future husband, Gale Dick ’50. They would eventually settle in Salt Lake City where they raised three children. Ann also found time to earn a master’s degree in plant biology before pursuing a career as a school teacher.
- Frederick James Anderson ’59, deceased September 21, 2015 in Victorville, California. A native of Lucerne Valley, California, Frederick wrote his chemistry thesis with Prof. John Hancock [chemistry 1955-89] and then completed graduate work at Clark University and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Frederick worked as a research chemist at the Carus Chemical Company in La Salle, Illinois, and raised three children with his wife, Catherine.
- Elizabeth Berry Barber ’63, deceased June 9, 2015 in Tukwila, Washington. Although a music major, Beth worked closely with chemistry Prof. John Hancock [chemistry 1955-89] on organ restoration. As Prof. Virginia Hancock ’62 tells the story, Beth “was one of the heroic few, along with Prof. John Hancock, who attempted to keep the old Estey pipe organ in the [Eliot] chapel functional.” Beth’s interest and efforts on behalf of organs and organ music continued long after her graduation from Reed: she worked for Olympic Organ Builders in Seattle, and assisted with the installation of the pipe organ in St. Mark’s Cathedral.