Marilyn Olmstead ’65 to Deliver 2017 Tom Dunne Lecture

 U. California-Davis Prof. Emeritus Marilyn Olmstead ’65 will return to the Reed campus on Thursday, September 21 to deliver the 2017 Tom Dunne lecture (Bio 19, 4:15 pm, free, open to public).

Her talk, “Fullerenes and Art,” will examine the soccer ball-shaped molecules that chemists are making in the laboratory from several perspectives:

More than 500 years ago Leonardo da Vinci built a wooden 60-vertex closed object — a “truncated icosahedron” — and he made a drawing of it for a math textbook. A little over 30 years ago, chemists discovered a molecular, all-carbon cage with exactly this shape. The excitement and appeal of this discovery has sparked interest not only in the fields of chemistry, but also in astronomy, art, and electronic materials. Prof. Olmstead will discuss some of her crystallographic results while portraying how the fullerenes have become an iconic part of our lives.

Marilyn shared some biographical info with us ahead of her lecture: 

“I majored in chemistry and graduated with a B.A. from Reed, class of ’65. Tom Dunne was my senior thesis advisor. I attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, from 1965 – 1969 and received my Ph.D. in chemistry with Professor Richard Fenske as my thesis advisor. My focus at the time was molecular orbital theory, but I was not thrilled with the slow computers and use of IBM cards for carrying out the computations. My interest in crystallography was sparked by Tom Dunne at Reed, and a grad school thesis committee member, Professor Larry Dahl. I decided to follow that interest a few years after moving to UC Davis with my husband, Alan, in 1969. At first I worked as Lecturer and as a post-doc while I learned crystallography from Professor Håkon Hope. The chemistry department then appointed me as a Specialist, and I directed the departmental crystallography facility until 2003, when I was appointed Full Professor. I became Emeritus in late 2015.”

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