“Like ketchup on sushi”

Reed chemistry alum and medical school student, Hassan Ghani ’08, just sent me this story from yesterday’s NY Times, “How to get an A- in Organic Chemistry” by Barbara Moran. Like so many others, Ms. Moran has decided a mid-life career change is in order, but her search for professional fulfillment has taken an unusual tack: at the tender age of 42, and with parental responsibilities for two small children, she finds herself enrolled in organic chemistry so that she can become a doctor.

Her story about the joys of “orgo” includes observations on the necessity of mastering electron pushing (draw a “zillion” curved arrows and you will eventually develop the kind of “intuition” that makes a poorly placed arrow seem as unpleasant as “ketchup on sushi”), similarities in the type of reasoning (“inductive generalization”) used by organic chemists and doctors, and the all-important life lesson that, even though our life compass points towards the Land of Perfection, it is not a place that we can ever visit.

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