Chemistry News from Reed Magazine, June 2018

 Chemistry was back on the Reed Magazine cover in June 2018. The cover article, “The Proton Phenomenon” (p. 24) is notable for its detailed profile of Reed’s newest chemistry professor, Miriam Bowring [2016-], and also for its deep dives into the three topics that underpin Prof. Bowring’s research: hydrogen fuels, organometallic catalysis, and one of the strangest of all chemical phenomena, proton tunneling. The gods may be able to climb over the top of Olympus, but protons can tunnel right through. The article also introduces us to several Reed students who had played an active role in this research, including Zac Mathe ’17, Jo Keller ’20, Hunter Wise ’18, and Oleks Lushchyk ’17. This is a must-read for any Reed chemist, or even for anyone who has ever thought, “what could quantum mechanics have to do with me?”

Chemistry alumni news appears in the Class Notes section. Allison Butler ’77 relates “my whole life is couched in Reediness, since both my parents [deceased] graduated from Reed: Warren L. Butler ’47 in physics and Lila S. Butler (Bowen) ’51 in history.” Allison, who has been a professor of chemistry at UC Santa Barbara since 1986, received a signal honor at the beginning of this year” the American Chemical Society’s 2018 Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic Chemistry. Allison tells the magazine that the success recognized by this award can be attributed to her experiences as a Reed student, and 40 years on these experiences still inform her approach to life and research. …

Tracy Scherban ’83 organized the Women in Science Student Summit that was held at Reed last January in collaboration with the ACS. Tracy shared a photo of the many attendees, described some of the activities, including sessions on fullerenes and finFET transistors, and gave a shout-out to the numerous Reed alumnae/faculty who helped make the Summit a success. Tracy lives in Portland with her son and husband, Kirk Parson ’82, and is currently teaching chemistry at PCC. … Chantal Sudbrack ’97 informed us that she moved back to the Windy City at the start of 2018. Of her new job with a small business, she writes “(almost) as nerdy as NASA. It involves designing new alloys using computational models and applying them to 3-D printing technologies.” She also invites couch crashers after she sells her Cleveland house and gets fully settled in Chicago. … and if you look closely at the photo, you will see among two chemists among the Reedies who gathered at James Chavez ’01’s wedding party: Brian Austin ’00 and Cosmo Buffalo ’05.

In Memoriam shared the lives of three recently deceased Reed chemists:

  • Marshall Wright ’46 passed away on July 26, 2011 in San Luis Obispo, California. Marshall (Marty) earned two degrees from Reed, chemistry ’46 (“The Electrode position of Beryllium” with Prof. Frank Hurley [chemistry 1942-51]) and philosophy ’52. Marty met his wife, Virginia Shirley Wright ’52, at Reed. Both Wrights were woodwind musicians, Virginia playing principal clarinet with the Portland Symphony, and Marty playing saxophone and clarinet for a number of jazz bands, including the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Music ran throughout Marty’s entire life, and so did chemistry. He earned a master’s degree in chemistry from U. Oregon, and taught chemistry courses for 31 years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before retiring in 1988.
  • Richard Baird ’53 passed away on October 25, 2017 in Wilmington, Delaware. An Iowa native, Richard came west and wrote his thesis, “An Investigation of the Mixed Anhydride Method of Peptide Synthesis,” under the direction of Prof. Marshall Cronyn ’40 [chemistry 1952–89]. After earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UCLA, Richard crossed the country again to do postdoctoral research at Harvard and teach chemistry at Yale before eventually moving to Wilmington to be a research chemist at DuPont. An avid sailor, Richard married Janet Morton in 1959 and they traveled extensively and raised two children. Richard is survived by his wife, children, and four siblings.
  • Jaclyn M. Vidgoff ’72 passed away on March 28, 2017 in Vancouver, Washington. Jaclyn grew up in Portland. She was the daughter of Portland physician Dr. Benjamin Vidgoff ’29, and attended Lincoln High School, where she graduated at the top of her class. She wrote her chemistry thesis, “Synthesis of Dimaleimides,” under the direction of Prof. Marshall Cronyn ’40 [chemistry 1952–89] and then remained at the college after graduation to continue research in chemotherapy. In 1970, she received her PhD in biochemistry from U. Washington, and then returned to Portland to conduct research at OHSU, teach courses in genetics, and serve as biochemical geneticist at Emanuel Hospital in NE Portland. Subsequent scientific activities included extensive studies of Tay-Sachs disease, immunology (doing HIV/AIDS diagnoses at Portland Red Cross), teaching pharmacology as a faculty member at U. Illinois-Urbana, and research at the Oregon Primate Center. Jaclyn is survived by her brother.


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