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…

Reed chemistry students learn to build other sorts of bridges as well. MRC celebrates 25 years (p. 4) reports on the many ways in which Reed College 2019 differs from previous incarnations. Maybe the photo (p. 4-5) says it best; 6 Reed students of color (chemist Elena McKnight ’20 rounds out the group), a few among many, all with widely different backgrounds and academic interests.

An anonymous donor made possible the creation of the Margret Geselbracht Chair of Chemistry (p. 6). The first chemist to hold this title will be Prof. Arthur Glasfeld [1989-]. Arthur, as many of us know, taught Chem 101 with Maggie for decades before her untimely passing. As he says, “Maggie Geselbracht was the ultimate Reed professor. Holding a chair in Maggie’s name is an incredible honor and great reminder of all she meant to me and to the college as an inspirational colleague and friend.” Hear, hear!

It almost goes without saying that Reed College is able to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world partly because of the generosity of its supporters. When I read that Stephen McCarthy ’65 was awarded the Foster-Scholz Distinguished Service Award at Reunions 2018 I was reminded of the time Stephen trailed Prof. Tom Dunne [chemistry, 1963-95] into my office to ask, “Can the department use an analytical GC? I replaced the one we were using at the distillery, and the old one still works.” We took it. Thanks again, Stephen. And congratulations.

A final chemistry shout out goes to Jeff Kovac ’70. His book, The Ethical Chemist, is now in its 2nd edition (Oxford, 2018) (Reediana, p. 31). Jeff also has the unique distinction of being the sole chemist to submit something for Class Notes. He informs us that he has retired as a full-time professor of chemistry at the University of Tennessee (congratulations!). However, he will continue for another two years in a “part-time postretirement appointment” as director of college scholars.

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