Paging through the Autumn ’08 issue of the Reed Magazine, I came across a photo (p. 47) containing two smiling faces that I knew well: Julia, currently a 4th year graduate student at Northwestern University and her (Reed) thesis advisor, Maggie. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the two were also showing off matching (and removable) VIPEr tattoos to a photographer at the Gordon conference on Solid State Chemistry last July.
V.I.P.E.r. is really the acronym for the Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource that Maggie and her collaborators at I.O.N.I.C. (the Inorganic Online Network of Inorganic Chemists) have created. Although the public face of I.O.N.I.C.-V.I.P.E.r. is a highly useful set of web pages devoted to the teaching of inorganic chemistry, its deeper purpose is to help the Man from U.N.C.L.E. defeat the agents of T.H.R.U.S.H. To accomplish this, they distribute V.I.P.E.r. tattoos to interested chemists.
23 Mar 2016 update: Going through my old emails I came across the photo in question (and I learned that the Gordon Conference topic was Solid State Chemistry, a well-known haunt of Maggie’s). Julia and Maggie are standing in front of Maggie’s poster, and if you look carefully, you’ll see a pair of matching I.O.N.I.C. V.I.P.E.r. tattoos:
Julie was featured in a full page article in the Autumn 2008 issue of the Reed magazine, p. 36. The article described Julie’s work with the Institute for OneWorld Health, a nonprofit organization that “seeks out less-profitable drugs that others have abandoned, hoping to find cures for major diseases of the second and third world.” Current projects include developing a cheaper route to artemisinin, a highly prized antimalarial, and finding an antidiarrheal drug in an 800,000 compound library donated by the pharmaceutical giant, Roche. Although Julie’s work is mainly on the business and legal side, her Reed thesis title reveals her scientific background: “Reactions of benzalmethanedisulfonyl fluoride (2-phenyl-1, 1-ethenedisulfonyl fluoride)” (advisor: M. Cronyn).
A full-page conversation with Arlene was featured in the Dec 8, 2008 issue of C&E News, p. 35. Two excerpts:
“Blum is taking action to limit the amount of potentially toxic chemicals used in consumer products by bringing together independent scientists and industry and government decisionmakers … She is particularly concerned about hazardous halogenated chemicals. Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants are pressing concerns, she says.”
“Blum fell in love with molecules and mountain climbing when she attended Reed College, in Oregon. She wrote her senior thesis about volcanic gases, collecting samples on nearby Mount Hood in the process.”
Anyone who can work their senior thesis into a conversation with a reporter from a national news magazine is a true Reedie. Out of curiousity, I looked up the title of Arlene’s thesis: “Fumarole emanations from Mount Hood, Oregon”. The Reed library also contains two other books by Arlene: “Annapurna: A Woman’s Place” (Sierra Club, 1980) and “Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life” (Scribner’s, 2005). Arlene spoke at Reed on Nov 18, 2008 as a guest of the Reed Outdoor Club.
C&E News called me last week and asked me to tell all regarding the department’s chemistry budget for next year. Since I haven’t been told much myself, I couldn’t offer much information (the reporter said she would call back in January to get an update). You can read the complete article, Schools Face Cuts, with its passing reference to Reed, in the Dec 15, 2008 issue of C&E News, p. 7.
Ben Eder (1980-2001) entered Reed in 1998. He had grown up in Newport on the Oregon coast, an avid fisherman in a family that relied on the sea for its livelihood. His enthusiasm for life’s experiences took him all over the globe, but a tragic boating accident in 2001 stole away the lives of Ben and his crewmates.
The experiences of Ben and the rest of the Eder family have been chronicled in a new book, “Salt in Our Blood” by Michele Longo Eder. The book, the author, and the occupational hazards experienced by the Oregon fishing fleet, were recently profiled on OPB’s Think Out Loud (Nov 19, 2008). You can listen to the interview and read an incredible set of comments at the show’s web site. You can also see pictures of Ben and his family at Inside the Book. Two memorial scholarships have been established in Ben’s name and are accepting donations.
“Ultra-liberal Reed College in Oregon is doing away with textbooks” is exactly how humorist P.J. O’Rourke described us when he started his yarn on yesterday’s (Nov 15, 2008) Bluff the Listener segment on NPR’s news-comedy show, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. His fantasy (perhaps shared by more than a few students and professors?) featured Reed getting rid of all textbooks in order to fight “the unregulated hegemony of textbook publishers” and relying on bogus web sites and web calculators to support all student work. The listener turned out to be pretty savvy and didn’t buy the story. To hear the entire segment, go to This Week’s Show and select Bluff the Listener (runs 6:24). Or, to save time, you can jump in at 3:33 and listen O’Rourke’s tale of over-enthusiastic web-based education.
As Friday afternoon ran down and the halls grew quiet, a real “alumni surprise” walked through Arthur Glasfeld‘s door: Phil Wilk. I went across the hall to listen in and heard about Phil’s academic exploits. After graduating from Reed, he went to Berkeley to work with Glenn Seaborg (Nobel ’51) and Darlene Hoffman (Priestley ’00). Sadly, Seaborg passed away in 1999, but Phil continued his work at synthesizing ultra-heavy elements and eventually earned his Ph.D.. In the last few years, he has set up shop at the Lawrence Livermore labs, a short trip from Berkeley down the freeway and through the Altamont Pass.
Who else but Katie would send an email saying, “Hello again, it’s your favorite wayward alumna back to haunt you again … I’m coming into town Friday”? So Friday afternoon rolled around and who should walk into my office but Katie herself. I had been warned.
Katie is still working at the U. Washington Medical Center in Seattle (she tells me that the chemistry building is just across the street and she occasionally sees Reedies on campus), but she is gearing up to attend graduate school in engineering. She also showed off some impressive manual dexterity – pain-free at last! – and is eager to move on with her life. Good luck, Katie!
Jordan returned to Reed yesterday, visited with students and faculty, and presented a seminar based on his doctoral research at Caltech: “Supplying Global Energy Carbon-Free: A Combinatorial Approach to Finding Solutions”. Jordan’s hair is much shorter than we all remember, but the smile and chemistry were vintage Jordan. He told us, that according to best estimates, controlling CO2 levels in the atmosphere to any significant extent requires producing 10-20 TW (that’s terawatts) of energy worldwide from sources that won’t release greenhouse gases. The only realistic source of energy on that scale is solar energy and Jordan described his recent efforts to find metal oxide semiconductors that can split water to H2 (fuel) + O2 in a solar-powered photochemical reaction.
Environmental Chemistry at Reed College. Reed College is inaugurating a new interdisciplinary program in environmental studies. To support this program, the Chemistry Department invites applications for a tenure-track position in Environmental Chemistry beginning August 2009. Preference will be given to candidates with additional expertise in either physical chemistry or analytical chemistry/instrumentation. The successful candidate will be expected to teach advanced courses in their area of expertise and to contribute to the introductory chemistry course sequence as well as an interdisciplinary team-taught course in environmental studies. Teaching duties also include advising senior thesis students in year-long research projects. Excellent facilities for teaching and research are available, including a 400 MHz multinuclear NMR spectrometer, housed in a 45,000 sq. ft. dedicated chemistry building. A Ph.D. is required, and postdoctoral experience is desirable. Submit curriculum vitae, an outline of research interests, statement of teaching philosophy, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to Arthur Glasfeld, Chair, Chemistry Search Committee, Reed College, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland, OR 97202-8199. Review of applications will begin on October 24, 2008 and continue until the position is filled. An Equal Opportunity Employer, Reed values diversity and encourages applications from underrepresented groups.