Alumni News from the Reed Magazine, September 2017

Take a step back in time… once upon a time you were a Reed College student. What were your days like? Perhaps your most vivid memory is of signing up for classes, or searching for missing lecture or lab notes, or visiting a prof during office hours for the first time? The first alumni letter in the September 2017 issue of the Reed Magazine, “Gene Hunter,” is from Steve Doob ’63, who reminds us that not every Reed memory is academic. Reflecting on his time in Hum 110 , he writes, “My experience with it in 1959 was not so pleasant. Much of the reason for my displeasure was the subjects we were studying. But the main reason humanities was unpleasant for me was the smoking. It seemed like everyone smoked in the class, including the professor.

zinc-site of iron-dependent regulator (IdeR) protein extracted from tuberculosis mycobacterium (Zn = red sphere, C = white, N = blue, S = orange, O = red, H2O = yellow)

The smoke disappeared from Reed classrooms years ago (see summer memory at bottom), but memories are obviously a big part of every issue of the Reed Magazine, and so are reports on current campus events. Each issue weaves together threads from many disciplines, from Hum 110 to biochemistry. For example, at the other end of the magazine from Mr. Doob’s letter, just inside the back cover (p. 56) is a full-page image of a computer model of a zinc-containing protein that Prof. Arthur Glasfeld [chemistry 1989-] presents to his students in Chem 391, Structural Biochemistry. The image beautifully illustrates the different graphical tools that chemists rely on for depicting molecular structure, and the distinction that always exists between experimental data (blue mesh) and conceptual models.

Chemistry-related news in the September issue took on many hues. The gratifying news story that alumni-giving had set a new record — $4.638 million in Annual Fund gifts for the 2016-17 fiscal year — also called attention to the fact that some end-of-year gifts were undoubtedly inspired by a challenge match sponsored by several alumni and parents, including chemist Kevan Shokat ’86 and spouse/trustee Deborah Kamali ’85. If you supported Reed this year, or in any other year, let me state my profound and humble thanks. Your faith in us, our students, and our mission, is what makes this special education possible.

What Next? described the Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) programs that help students begin planning for that all-important, and sometimes slippery, transition from college to post-college life (p. 14-7). Prof. Rebecca LaLonde ’01 [chemistry 2013-] provided advice based on her own experience as a Reed student (Reed is just one step on a journey”) and Luke Kanies ’96, founder of Puppet, was cited for hiring Reed students/graduates as interns and full-time employees, and for Puppet’s sponsorship of a “Reed Women in Tech” networking event.

Newly minted chemistry graduates also got into the act. Environmental chemist Claire Young ’17 was featured in What is a Reedie, Anyway? (p. 28). If you have a print issue of the magazine, check out full-page photo of Claire holding a beer bottle and a pipette (inserted pointy end into the bottle) in one hand, and a blue pipette bulb in the other hand. Claire’s thesis (“Urban Metals: Just a Hop, Skip, and a Beer Away”, supervisor: Dr. Danielle Cass [chemistry 2010-12, 2014-]) explored whether the heavy metals that had been recently detected in Portland tree moss were also making their way into Portland food gardens, in this case, hops that residents grow for homebrew.

Class Notes informed us that Kenneth Jacobson ’75 received not one, but two, awards in recognition of his work in medicinal chemistry. These included the 2017 Bristol-Myers Squibb Smissman Award from the medicinal chemistry division of the American Chemical Society, and the 2016 Tu Youyou award from the journal Molecules … two Reedies were also back-to-back winners of the 2016 and 2017 Teacher of the Year awards at the same San Diego high school (what are the chances of this?), Deborah Couffer Sadler ’77 was the 2017 winner, and Danielle Vincent Griffith ’98 took the 2016 prize … and Mitra Shokat ’18 appears as a member of the Pizza YOLO FC championship futsal team. The team photo boasts 9 Reed alumni, students, and friends.

In Memoriam told us that Kurt Nelson ’48 had passed away on November 7, 2016 in Tigard, Oregon. A respected analytical chemist, Kurt was born in Sweden, raised in Portland, and served in Europe (Bronze Star) during World War II. His 1948 thesis, “Preparation of Pure Silver for Atomic Weight Determinations,” which was directed by Prof. Arthur Scott [chemistry 1923-79], no doubt set Kurt on his professional path.

A personal ‘smoky’ memory from 2017 … like it was for Steve Doob ’63, smoke became a major irritant for me this summer. The summer vistas that I look forward to enjoying every year were obscured by thick haze, and even breathing became dangerous as summer winds funneled wildfire smoke all the way from British Columbia into Portland. Then, on September 2nd, just a few days after the start of school, the Eagle Creek fire erupted on the west end of the Columbia River gorge, filling Portland with even thicker smoke than before. Young and old were told to stay inside and limit their physical activity. Officials closed I-84 and a twenty-mile stretch of the Columbia river to cars, trucks, and boats, of all kinds. Strong winds in the Gorge fanned the flames around the clock, and officials soon issued evacuation orders to Gorge residents. Hundreds of homes were abandoned in the face of the rapidly advancing fire, not to be occupied again until heavy October rains cleared the air.

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