Chemistry News from Reed Magazine, September 2018

Sometimes life at Reed seems like it comes right out of Lewis Carroll. In Through the Looking Glass the White Queen informs Alice that in her (the Queen’s) youth she could believe “six impossible things before breakfast”.

Life at Reed can make similar demands on a person’s imagination. After years of discussion the Hum 110 faculty approved (another) significant revision. The revised curriculum includes readings from Mexico City 1500-2000, and the Harlem Renaissance. Impossible? Then consider this … last summer construction workers dug up a two foot tall, 100+ pound stone rabbit that had been buried underneath the sidewalk fronting Eliot. Impossible? Well, how about … two new science majors being added to the Reed curriculum in the past year: Computer Science plus an interdisciplinary major in Neuroscience.

Are these things impossible? Of course not. Very little is impossible for Reed, but you know that already if are a regular reader of the Reed magazine. Here is a summary of chemistry-related news from the September 2018 issue, “Constructing Gender”:

An annual magazine favorite, What is a Reedie, Anyway? profiled 12 members of the Class of ’18 including biochemistry Trevor Soucy ’18 and chemist Joshua Tsang ’18 (currently pursuing a PhD in chemistry at U. California Berkeley). Trevor gave a shout out to four different Reed professors including two chemists, saying, “I’m grateful to Prof. Kelly Chacón [ 2015-] for her never-ending enthusiasm, [and] to Prof. Arthur Glasfeld [1989-] for hsi humor and passionate lectures”. Josh spoke of his appreciation for Prof. Dan Gerrity [1987-], saying, “My favorite class was physical chemistry … this class really helped me visualize … theoretical concepts through the spectroscopy of simple molecules.” [p. 21 & 24]

Reediana described the 20th book, “Natural Causes”, written by the very prolific journalist (and chemist!) Barbara Ehrenreich ’63. The book’s breadth and depth defy a capsule summary, but you can infer some of its content from the subtitle: “An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer”. Still, I recommend turning to the Reed magazine’s description [p. 33].

For some sad reason Class Notes was bereft of wedding photos, but there were baby photos a-plenty to fill the gap. Unfortunately, none of the little beauties were chemistry offspring so I’ll just skip over that to the following. Annette Gardner ’83 informed on her classmate Rebecca Braslau ’81 whose research, and personal journey from child to chemist, was profiled in the UC Santa Cruz magazine, “Preventing Plastic’s Perils” (Mar 2018) … and Bonnie Cuthbert ’10 reported that she had completed her Ph.D. at Duke University and moved to a postdoctoral position in the Goulding laboratory at U. California – Irvine. Congratulations, Bonnie!

In Memorian gave us an in-depth look at the very full life of George Edward Bussell ’51 who passed away on March 7, 2018 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. What follows are just the highlights from what you can find online or in the magazine…

Like many children of an earlier era, George cultivated his interest in chemistry in his parents’ Everett, WA basement with such now-verboten experiments as making toy soldiers by melting lead and pouring it into molds, and playing with liquid mercury. A job on a tugboat paid for his first year of college at Reed.

Interestingly, George’s path to Reed was entirely serendipitous. He and his friends were headed south to check out U. Oregon when they bumped into someone who said to visit Reed too. Arriving on campus in late summer, the group walked around almost without meeting anyone until they lucked out and met up with Director of Admissions and math Prof. Adolph Bittner, who gave George an admission test. Two weeks later George was sitting in his first Reed class!

College studies were interrupted by the military draft, but upon returning to Reed with the financial help of the GI Bill, George (re-)discovered his love for chemistry. His thesis, “Further Investigation of the Von Richter Reaction” with Prof. Josef F. Bunnett [chemistry 1946-52] was followed by a stint of high school teaching (chemistry, math, physics) and bus driving, an NSF fellowship from NSF for graduate studies at Oregon State College (masters in chemistry), more high school work as a vice-principal and principal, and a return to graduate studies (doctorate of education at Columbia University).

George and his wife Delores (married 1954) worked and lived in several locations around Puget Sound, but Bainbridge Island may have been their favorite spot of all. George served a term as president of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. He is survived by his wife Delores, and three children, Mike, Karen, and Reed chemist Mark Bussell ’83.


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