Arthur F. Scott biography in the Oregon Encyclopedia

“Arthur Frederick Scott, known as Scotty, was a distinguished member of the Reed College faculty.” So begins the Oregon Encylopedia‘s new biographical entry on Prof. Scott [chemistry, 1937-1965] (1898-1982) written by Prof. Emeritus Jeffrey Kovac ’70 (Chemistry, U. Tennessee). However, as Kovac quickly makes clear, “distinguished” is a vast understatement of Scott’s life and work. For Scott was not just a member of the Reed College faculty, he was the chair of the chemistry department from 1937-65, and he served as interim president of Reed College for most of World War II (1942-45). In addition, Scott pioneered many projects in chemical research and education, on and off the Reed campus (one of these projects was the creation of the still-operational Reed Nuclear Research Reactor, the only device of its kind to be housed at an undergraduate college), and he received several national awards and honorary degrees in recognition of his tireless efforts. It is only natural that today’s Reed students study chemistry in the Arthur F. Scott Laboratory of Chemistry.

Although Scott had retired from full-time teaching well before Kovac graduated from Reed, Kovac got to know Scott well. As Kovac put it, researching and writing this piece for the Encyclopedia was “a labor of love.”

Kovac has written several other entries for the Oregon Encyclopedia, including a biography of the College’s first president, William Trufant Foster (1879-1950), and a biography of the College’s seventh president, E.B. MacNaughton (1880-1960), who distinguished himself by serving simultaneously as president of the Oregonian newspaper, chairman of First National Bank, and president of Reed College (notable fact: MacNaughton did not accept a salary for his work as Reed president).

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What is a Reedie? Zesean Ali ’20 !!

It’s become an annual feature of the Reed Magazine, What Is a Reedie? A dozen graduating seniors from all sectors of the College are profiled. If you asked, “Are they typical students? Do they really represent the graduating class?”, I would have to reply, “You don’t understand Reed College! There is nothing typical about any of our students. Of course these dozen represent the graduating class!”

This year’s dozen includes Chemistry major, Zesean Ali ’20. To sit and talk with Zesean for a few minutes is to watch the future unfold before your very eyes. He is energy personified, and you can count on him to be looking around the next corner. So I wasn’t surprised to hear him tell me a couple of summers back, just before he returned to his fall semester classes, that his summer research project had convinced him that his future lay in public policy, not scientific research. Nor was I surprised to watch that plan morph into his leadership of our student American Chemical Society chapter, and another deep dive into organic chemistry research (natural product chemistry of mushrooms), and now, yet another direction. He’s headed to the Harvard Divinity School. Zesean, like any “typical” Reedie, simply defies easy labels.

Congratulations, Zesean. And best of luck. Your future is very bright!

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In Memoriam: Tom Dunne

It’s with great sadness that we report the passing of emeritus chemistry professor Tom Dunne [Reed 1963-1995] on 5 April 2020. Tom’s career spanned three major epochs of Reed chemistry. As a young faculty member he overlapped with Prof. Arthur Scott [1923-1979], who is closely associated with the early growth of Reed Chemistry, and through most of his 30+ year career Tom worked alongside Prof. John Hancock [1955-1989] and Marsh Cronyn ’40 [1952-1989], overseeing the development of the program that informs our curriculum to this day. Then towards the end of his career at Reed, Tom welcomed in a group of junior faculty that includes a few of us still active today (Dan Gerrity [1987-], Arthur Glasfeld [1989-], and Alan Shusterman [1989-]), helped break ground on our “new” building in 1992, and introduced environmental chemistry into our curriculum, planting the seeds for the modern ES-Chemistry major.

Tom’s childhood in the Mojave Desert prepared him well for a life in Chemistry. He grew up in Westend, a tiny company town associated with borax mining. He left home to attend UCLA, and then moved up the coast to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Washington, before moving east to start his professional career at IBM. Temperamentally, Tom was always destined to be an academic. After a short stay at IBM, he left to join Prof. Albert Cotton’s lab at MIT as a postdoc and retrained as an inorganic chemist, before taking up his Reed position in the Fall of 1963.

Tom was ferociously dedicated to Reed students and made a lasting contribution to many he taught or mentored in thesis over the years. A Dunne lectureship was instituted by one of his former academic advisees in acknowledgment of Tom’s exceptional service, and that lectureship provided a terrific opportunity for the department to celebrate the many outstanding chemists who Tom influenced during their Reed careers. He was also committed to the chemistry community of Portland and the Pacific Northwest and worked tirelessly on behalf of the local American Chemical Society section.

After the 2018 Dunne lecture: from L, Alan Shusterman, Ron Sato, Arthur Glasfeld (back row), Juliane Fry, Tom Dunne, Mary Johansson ’91 (2018 Dunne lecturer), Miriam Bowring (front)

In retirement, Tom was an active member of the department until 2006, when he mentored his last thesis student. Nevertheless, he remained closely attached to the Reed community for all of the years that he was able. His reminiscences, told with fondness and wit, have kept those of us currently teaching in the department attached to its past and mindful of the many wonderful students who walked the hallways before we arrived. His contributions to Reed and to the larger community have been enormous and won’t soon be forgotten. – Arthur Glasfeld

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Anna Brown ’05 Creating Lead-Free X-Ray Protection

After Anna ’05 finished her work at Reed, she, like so many Reedies before her, decided to stay in Portland. She took her books across the Willamette and earned her Ph.D. at Portland State University under the direction of inorganic/nanomaterials chemist, Prof. Andrea Goforth. Her next Portland move? Apply her science smarts and create a start-up company, Stark Street Materials (website under construction; keep checking back).

Stark Street Materials’ current plans call for developing new uses for bismuth, a non-toxic material (think Pepto-Bismol), in medical applications. One new product will substitute bismuth for highly toxic lead in the x-ray protection clothing that has been worn by patients and medical personnel for the past century. Watch this video to learn more about Anna and Stark Street.

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UPDATE Attend Recognition Night for Prof. Tom Dunne UPDATE


More info regarding postponement and dinner reservations can be found HERE.

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Panel Discussion: Out in Stem PDX

What stereotypes do each of us hold about STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics) professionals? Does the mention of STEM bring to mind someone who is … Male? Straight? Nerd?

I will stop right there. Because, contrary to whatever you might think of me (he/him and nerd), STEM fields are becoming increasingly diverse and (one can only hope) increasingly welcoming to all people with a STEM interest. I can see this happening around me in Portland, Oregon, and especially on the Reed College campus.

Portland’s Q Center explored this topic one evening last week (“Out in STEM PDX”, 8 Aug 2019) by gathering an LGBTQ+ panel of STEM professionals and inviting the Portland community to hear their “stories, insights, and conversations … about their experiences of navigating the STEM world.” Among the panelists was Reed College chemistry professor Kelly Chacón (she/her or they) [2015-].

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Chemistry News from the Reed Magazine, March 2019

The March 2019 issue of the Reed Magazine, From Here to There, is a reminder of the many ways that Reedies can fascinate. Dip inside and you will discover the seldom told story of Inez Freeman ’48 in “Black Student, White City“. In the years immediately following World War II, Inez was Reed’s sole African-American student and only the second African-American to graduate from Reed, following in the footsteps of Geraldine Turner ’32. Or, you can cruise the bike lanes of Southern California alongside urban anthropologist Adonia Lugo ’05 and examine these lanes through an equity lens in “What’s Wrong with Bike Lanes?”. (Having grown up in the 1960’s as a bike commuter in the east San Fernando Valley, I learned that more things had changed for cyclists than the addition of bike helmets.) And there’s plenty of chemistry news to fascinate the reader as well.

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Brent Michel ’17 Driving Towards Counseling Degree

Brent will be leaving Portland in the next few days and he will be traveling light.

After 7 years in Portland, including the usual 4 years as a Reed chemistry student, and post-Reed work as an after-school science educator and first-responder to calls at a local crisis hot line, Brent has zeroed in on his career ambition: to study for an advanced degree in mental health counseling and provide people in need with professional counseling.

So he is packing up the car, and telling his well-used furniture and Portland friends ‘see ya’ later‘, and driving cross-country to Raleigh, North Carolina where he will enter the North Carolina State University’s Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program in mid-May.

Wave to him as he drives by.

Bon voyage, Brent!

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Lisa Frueh ’15 – Eastward Ho!

Lisa has been working in the Portland area since graduation, primarily as a research chemist in the lab of Prof. Michael Riscoe at OHSU, a project that included close mentorship of a Reed thesis (see “Rose Gonoud ’17 Tackles Drug-Resistant Malaria“).

Now Lisa informs us that she is about to start a new adventure. She will be relocating to Cambridge, MA where she will begin studies in the Master’s of Public Health program at Harvard in the fall.

Best wishes, Lisa!

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Chemistry News from the Reed Magazine, December 2018

The cover photo for “Rising”, the December 2018 issue of the Reed magazine, shows a partially flooded road in Louisiana. The pavement rises less than an inch above the two large bodies of water on each side, daring the driver on. According to author Elizabeth Rush ’06, this is the new future that awaits more coastal communities if we do not (and perhaps even if we do) step up our efforts to slow the pace of climate change (cover story). The last page of the magazine (p. 48) contains an image (two really) that is almost as provocative (Objects of Study). We live in the age of Big Data, and the inkspot-like images illustrate a data analysis tool that Prof. Kjersten Whittington [sociology, 2007-] teaches her Reed students to navigate. Reed chemistry students straddle both worlds, the data from our senses and the data generated from computer analyses of large databases. Here is a guide to chemistry news items from the December issue…

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