Kris McNeill weighs in on UC Berkeley name change

Ring the alarm. The Borg are coming.

According to C&ENews (7 Mar 2016, p. 9, “Is UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry in danger?“) the administration of UC Berkeley is considering doing away with its venerable College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (est’d. 1872). The chemical enterprise will remain, the story says, but it will be absorbed into the Borg Collective, better known as the College of Letters & Science. C&ENews quotes Kris McNeill (BS Reed ’92, PhD UC Berkeley ’97) as saying,

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Mark Ptashne ’61 Eliot Awardee & Lecturer

Prof. Mark Ptashne (Memorial Sloan-Kettering) knows a thing or two about genes. You might even say he wrote the book. Two books even: A Genetic Switch (now in its 3rd edition) and Genes & Signals (written with Alexander Gann).

Mark is also this year’s receipient of the Thomas Lamb Eliot award, an award given by the college in recognition of “distinguished and sustained achievement by a Reed College graduate” (this marks two years in a row that Reed chemists have won the Eliot award), and he will be delivering a lecture on “Genetic Switches” on Thursday night, Feb. 4, in Vollum Lecture Hall.

So how did a Reed chemist become one of the world’s top experts on genes and gene regulation? I never thought you would ask…

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Kris McNeill ’92 on solving the future’s problems now

Kris is currently a professor of environmental chemistry at ETH. He sat down recently with a reporter from the American Chemical Society to discuss his research. The interview appears in the current issue of ACS Central Science, “A Conversation with Kristopher McNeill” by Mark Peplow (ACS Cent. Sci., 2016, 2(1), 4-5, DOI 10.1021/acscentsci.5b00405.

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Marty Mulvihill ’02 Looks Back

Marty Mulvihill (BS Reed, PhD Berkeley) is stepping down from the position he created five years ago at UC Berkeley: Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC). Marty takes a thoughtful look at his green chemistry experiences at Berkeley in the January 2016 BCGC newsletter. His story begins, “I first fell in love with molecules in my sophomore organic chemistry course. I remember commenting to my lab partner that organic chemistry problems were much more interesting than crossword puzzles, and  they should be included in newspapers (with spelling as poor as mine, crosswords were never very fun).” Continue reading

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Derek Oldridge ’07 Hunting for Cancer’s Causes

Derek graduated from Reed in 2007 with a license to run the Reed nuclear reactor and a BA in Chemistry/Physics, but three years later he had placed his feet on entirely different path: studying for a MD/PhD in the Genomics and Computational Biology program at U. Pennsylvania. Derek just wrote to us the other day with all kinds of news, personal and professional.

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Luke Kanies ’96 Shepherds Puppet Labs towards IPO

Luke Kanies ’96 and his wife, Cindy, first met in a Reed seminar during his junior year. As she tells it, “he always had something to say about everything.” His outspoken ways in the classroom made her seek out the most comfortable spot she could find: whatever seat was as far as possible from his.

But times have changed… Luke still has his passion for computers and bicycles, but Cindy and Luke are now married, living in the Alameda area, and parenting twin daughters. And Luke, after a string of short-term jobs, has become founder and CEO of Portland’s Puppet Labs, a 400 employee company housed in a newly remodeled high-rise in downtown Portland. Lately Luke has been juggling two all-consuming tasks: taking Puppet Labs public (the IPO is currently scheduled for 2016) and maintaining his iconoclastic lifestyle: the family man who can bike or walk 4 miles to work and find time to root for Arsenal. You can learn more about the formerly-mohawk-topped Reed biochemist in “Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies: Comfortable as iconoclast” (Mike Rogoway, Oregonian, 5 Dec 2015).

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Jeff Koplow ’90 receives SunShot Innovation Fellowship

The Sandia National Labs reported (12 Nov 2015) that Jeff Koplow has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Innovator in Residence Fellowship by the SunShot Initiative, a DOE enterprise to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by 2020. Read more here.

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Kenneth Koe ’45, In Memoriam

The Reed Magazine blog has reported that Kenneth Koe ’45, one of the principal scientists on the Zoloft discovery team at Pfizer, passed away at his daughter’s home earlier this month. He was 90 years old.

I remember meeting Dr. Koe in person in 2008 when he returned to campus to accept the Howard Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology. Although advanced in years, he was intellectually sharp, friendly and curious about the current generation of Reed scientists, and gracious towards all.

It was a privilege to welcome this Portland native who had done so much for so many back to campus and to honor his achievements in this distinctly Reed-like way. We have lost a friend and colleague.

Kenneth Koe’s Howard Vollum award acceptance speech

“Breaking Depression’s Icy Grip,” Reed magazine, Winter 2009

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Stressed in Grad School?

The latest issue of C&E News (Sept. 14, 2015), the American Chemical Society’s news magazine, contains an article with the intriguing title, “Opening Up About Stress in Graduate School.” It almost goes without saying that the opportunity to do graduate-level research in your profession is incredibly rewarding. It’s tempting to think, therefore, that whatever the personal costs of this education might be, they must be worth it, but that is an open question. As the article points out:

According to a 2011 survey by the nonprofit group Grad Resources, 43% of U.S. graduate students who participated reported experiencing more stress than they could handle. And a 2014 study conducted by the Graduate Assembly of the University of California, Berkeley, found that 47% of UC Berkeley Ph.D. students who responded to the survey reached the threshold considered to be depressed.

A few voices from the C&E News article:

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Mary Jo Ondrechen ’74 seeks ACS office

It’s election season once again, but I don’t mean the one you’re thinking about. The American chemical Society is holding elections for its Board of Directors. One of the candidates for Director-at-Large is Mary Jo Ondrechen, ’74. You can find out more about Mary Jo’s ACS connection and her candidate’s statement here.

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