Oliver Laeyendecker ’90

The graduation ceremony for the class of 2009 was held yesterday on the front lawn. It was, as always, a pleasure to share in the happiness of our graduates and their families and to offer our congratulations. Its also a joy to hear back from graduates like Ollie, who wrote to us in early April:

I’ve been accepted into the PhD program in Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I will start in the fall and try to balance work with study. I still think that the Reed Chemistry program prepared [me] really well for the research I currently do. Thank you for setting me up for success.

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Jodi O’Donnell takes root at Siena

Another “news” story from 2007 that nearly got lost in the changeover from the old computer system to the current one was the transplant of our visiting professor Jodi O’Donnell to Siena College. She spent two lovely years with us, 2005-07, before moving east. Here’s what she wrote shortly after arriving in Loudonville (Albany), NY:

I hope all is well with you! I just wanted to drop a line to say hi and pass my new contact information to you. We are settling in well in NY and enjoying exploring all the wonderful outdoor activities upstate NY has to offer. So far we’ve been whitewater rafting in the Adirondacks and camping in the Catskills! Both are only an hour’s drive from our new home. We’re still adjusting to the evil heat and humidity, though! We’re living in an apartment for now, as sadly, we are still homeowners in Oregon, but hopefully that will change soon.

I’ve started to move into my office and lab at Siena and am getting to know my new colleagues. Everyone has been very helpful and kind, making the transition go quite smoothly. There are three “new kids” in the Chemistry department alone, so we are able to work together to find our way around.

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Kate Aubrecht ’92 moves to Saint Anselm

Kate Aubrecht, one of my very first thesis students, sent me some photos and news back in July 2007. Little did I know that our news blog would stop publication that same summer until a new computer system could be brought online. Here are her emails, almost two years later:

As many of you know, I am joining the faculty of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH this August. Barney, Thea, and I will all get to live in the same house all week. My new work email is kaubrecht@anselm.edu. We welcomed Thea (Althea Linden Grubbs-Aubrecht)in March. I interviewed at Saint Anselm in February. Although I will miss Holy Cross, single parenting during the week would be really hard. Barney got the good news of a positive tenure decision at Dartmouth this spring. Eventful year here. Bianca Sclavi ’92 should get photo credit for the close-up of Thea. She was visiting from Paris for a FASEB conference in Vermont and then visited us for the weekend.


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Kevan Shokat ’86 Elected to NAS

72 new members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Among them is Kevan Shokat, Reed ’86, currently a professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UC San Francisco.

Since this is the time of year when seniors are filing their finished theses, it is interesting to go back and look at Kevan’s. The Reed library catalog describes this document as “49 leaves” carrying the title, “Synthesis of a precursor of PRCPCP, a non-hydrolyzable analog of phosphoribosylpyrophosphate (PRPP)”. Ron McClard served as Kevan’s thesis advisor.

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Chemistry alumni win NSF graduate research fellowships

The National Science Foundation has begun releasing the names of the 2009 winners of its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships in science. The first installment includes five Reedies, two of whom are Reed chemists: Justin Jasper ’05 and Joe Kliegman ’06.

Justin’s award will support environmental engineering studies at UC Berkeley, while Joe’s award was made for life sciences-biophysics studies at UC San Francisco. Other Reed awardees include: Adam Goldstein ’06, David Rasmussen ’07, and Leila Rieder ’06.

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Maggie Geselbracht chairs ACS symposium

Prof. Maggie Geselbracht organized a symposium in the Division of Inorganic Chemistry at the 237th national meeting of the American Chemical Society held in Salt Lake City, March 22-26. The symposium was called “Undergraduate Research at the Frontiers of Inorganic
” and featured three half-day sessions of oral presentations both by
faculty members and undergraduate students plus a poster session.

Response to the symposium was so enthusiastic that the Division’s leadership decided to add this topic to the list of regularly contributed symposia beginning with the spring 2010 ACS meeting. Maggie says she is “very excited that the DIC is recognizing the role that
undergraduate institutions and undergraduate research plays in
expanding the frontiers of science.”

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Seth Bush ’94 – Science Educator

The Education Forum in the Dec 19, 2008 issue of Science magazine presented an article titled, “THE PIPELINE: Science Faculty with Education Specialties” (p. 1795) by Seth and three colleagues in the California State University (CSU) system. The authors had conducted surveys of CSU science faculty to learn about their career dynamics and their relationship to science education.

Seth is currently an assistant professor in the chemistry department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. On his About Me page, he describes himself as “a doting father” with a “crazy hard wired need to show off my kids”.

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I.O.N.i.C. goes hard-copy

A few days ago, I posted a picture of VIPEr tattoos, a physical manifestation of IONiC, the Inorganic Online Network of Inorganic Chemists started by Maggie Geselbracht and several collaborators across the nation. It seems, though, that a merely online presence wasn’t enough for this lot. Maggie, her six IONiC collaborators, and Ethan Benatan, Reed’s director of Computer User Services and the technical guru for the VIPEr-IONiC project, have gone hard-copy and published an article in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE, 2009, 86(1), 123) titled, “IONiC: A Cyber-Enabled Community of Practice for Improving Inorganic Chemical Education“.

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Eliot Chemistry Lab

Before the Scott chemistry building opened its doors in 1992, and even before the “old” chemistry building (the current home of the psychology department) was constructed in 1948, Reed chemistry labs occupied a privileged space under the eaves of Eliot Hall.

I was reminded of this history when I looked at the back cover of Supporters 2007-2008, an insert in the Autumn 2008 issue of the Reed magazine, and caught sight of a photo showing Reed students standing alongside a long lab bench. The dimly lit interior, rows of jars and upended bottles, and the shady outline of the Eliot roof literally “reeks” chemistry. Lab aprons appear to have a long history, but I can’t tell whether protective goggles were routinely worn in the era before World War II.

Eliot chemistry lab pre48.jpg

click on photo for full-size image

This low-resolution photo was generously provided courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College and may not be reprinted without permission.

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Alumni News from Autumn ’08 Reed Magazine

Some more news from the Class Notes section of the Autumn ’08 issue:

  • Barbara Ehrenreich ’63 has published a new book, This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation (Metropolitan Books, 2008) (p. 51)
  • Francis Oliver Whipple ’48 died on March 16 in Richmond, BC. He started Reed prior to WW II, then returned after the war to earn his BA in chemistry. An MS and a PhD in chemistry followed, both earned at Oregon State University. The magazine quotes him as having fallen “in love” with the humanities program at Reed. “I would have to say it was one of the highlights of my experience at Reed … I found that it influenced me a great deal in my later life. My attitude later became one – when I was a teaching assistant, when I was in graduate school – to encourage students to get a liberal education foremost, and a scientific education secondary. And I still believe that and I would certainly encourage any young person to do that.” (p. 56)
  • Francis F. Wong ’50 died on July 15 in Oakland, CA. Wong served as a medic during WW II and saw service on Omaha Beach on D-Day. After the war, he entered Reed and received a BA in chemistry. This was followed by more studies at University of Portland in organic biochemistry (MS ’51). Although he would work in research labs for the next 30 years, he was also a highly regarded photographer. Wong served as the official photographer for several Bay area fire departments, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, and specialized in photos that revealed the details of fire suppression in the field. (p. 56)
  • Robert C. Brown ’51 died on August 2 in Danbury, CT. After completing his BA in chemistry at Reed, Brown studied law at George Washington University and University of Southern California (JD ’59). He subsequently moved to New York and spent the next 40 years as an intellectual property attorney and group patent attorney with the Union Carbide Corporation. (p. 57)
  • Carol Daun Croft ’57 died on June 21 in Tacoma, WA. Croft’s academic pursuits were many and eclectic. After she earned a BA in chemistry from Reed, she studied linguistics, theology, and then chemistry again (Oklahoma State University and Washington State University) and returned to Reed to work as a research assistant from 1963-66. (p. 57)
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