Alumni News from Reed Magazine, June 2016

The Reed Magazine always carries a broad spectrum of articles, and Within Reach, the June 2016 issue, is no exception. There are articles on a diverse set of alumni pursuits (can you say, “emergency planning – gunpowder – prosthetic limbs” three times fast?), class notes, Reediana, and updates on Reed’s academic programs. A particularly exciting development in the latter category is a new academic program in “computer science” that will be formally launched in September (see Reed to Launch Computer Science Program, p.7 and Eliot Circular). The new program features courses in “computer science, computational biology, digital art, and internet culture,” and I confess that I would like nothing better than to see a regular offering in computational chemistry added to this mix. [Alumni, you can help make this happen. Just ask me how. – Alan]

Sad to say, the June issue contains little news about the doings of Reed chemists, with one very gratifying exception from the Class Notes section that I will quote in full. 1978. We were delighted to learn that Dr. Rachel Klevit won the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society in recognition of exceptional contributions in protein science. The citation hails Rachel’s work for its “profound impact” on the way we understand important aspects of biological chemistry. Her research has been instrumental in understanding the mechanism of breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, she is an exceptional mentor of younger scientists and wonderful role model for other scientists and educators at all stages of their careers. Rachel is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Washington. Congrats to you, Rachel!” I will add that all of us in the Reed chemistry community are very proud and appreciative of Rachel. She has opened her lab several times over the years to Reed students seeking summer research opportunities, and she returned to campus this past fall to observe and discuss the teaching methods that are being used in our organic chemistry program. It is a privilege to have her as a colleague.

In Memoriam also celebrated the lives of several Reed chemists from another generation.

  • Eleanor May ’45, deceased February 2, 2016 in New Jersey. Eleanor entered Reed in 1941 with a “small scholarship,” and even though this offset part of the $250 annual tuition, she still lived at home to make ends meet. Eleanor recalled that “Coming to Reed was like finding heaven. It was great. I was a chemistry major, not because I had any ability whatsoever, but because I fancied myself a mathematician. I didn’t know what anybody majoring in math would do. I fancied the white coat, and majoring in chemistry actually served me in good stead.” Mathematics won out in the end, however. After building a family (four children), Eleanor eventually earned her master’s degree in mathematics, then became an instructor at Rutgers University before taking on a 30-year career as managing and technical editor for the Annals of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.
  • Roger Ives Miller ’52, deceased July 1, 2015, in Graton, California. Roger studied nuclear chemistry at Reed, eventually writing a thesis “Irradiation Experiments Using the New Co60 Source” with Prof. Arthur F. Scott [1923-79]. Nuclear chemistry was a continuing interest for Roger long after his graduation from Reed. He worked at the Hanford Nuclear Site, earned a master’s in radiation biology (U. Rochester), and then studied health physics at Brookhaven National Laboratory before moving to California, where he worked as a radiation chemist for Aerojet, and then as chemistry/radiation superintendent at the Rancho Seco Nuclear Facility near Sacramento.
  • Kurt Randall Myers ’86, deceased (heart attack) December 8,2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Kurt’s interests at Reed led him to the boundary between physics and chemistry, and he wrote an interdisciplinary thesis titled “A Relationship of a Trinity: a Linear Approach to Calculate the Ground State Energy of Helium Using the Wave Functions from an Exactly Soluble Free-body Model.” Graduate school in theoretical chemistry at the University of Chicago came next, and Kurt completed his doctoral dissertation on theory-based predictions of polymer interactions with surfaces. Kurt subsequently took his computer-based skill set into the world of finance, and eventually settled in Chicago where he became co-founder and CTO of (SMA).

Finally, I encourage readers’ to take a look at the inspiring story of Augustus Tanaka ’45 (deceased, December 14, 2015, in Ontario, Oregon). Gus graduated from Grant High School in Portland in 1941, just months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Gus recalled, “Four hours after Pearl Harbor the FBI was ringing our doorbell.” The agents searched the Tanaka house, confiscated family keepsakes, and arrested Gus’s father. A 5-mile travel restriction was placed on Japanese-Americans so Gus required a special security waiver to attend Reed. Unfortunately, even this opportunity proved short-lived: in May of his freshman year, Gus and his family were sent to detention camps, eventually settling in a camp at Minidoka, Idaho. Gus might have spent several years in Idaho had it not been for the intervention of Prof. Arthur F. Scott [chemistry 1923-79], who, as acting president of Reed, helped arrange Gus’s transfer to Haverford College in Pennsylvania. This opportunity proved short-lived as well because Gus was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. Following his honorable discharge, he completed his BA in biology at Haverford, and then earned his degree in medicine from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, before finally returning to Oregon to work alongside his father in the Tanaka Clinic in Ontario, Oregon. Looking back at the war years Gus recalled, “These were nightmarish times. I am deeply indebted to Reed for its compassionate concern for me. I don’t know how my life would have turned out were it not for Reed’s actions on my behalf at that time.”

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