Arlene Blum ’66 Inducted into California Hall of Fame

When I encounter something tall and massive blocking my path I look for a path around it, but not Arlene Blum ’66. She is more likely to climb right to the top and take in the view before deciding where to go next.

This inclination towards elevation once led her to the summits of some of the world’s tallest mountain peaks, but now it takes her into science-based advocacy for consumer and environmental protection through the non-profit organization she founded, the Green Science Policy Institute.

Arlene was recognized for her life of accomplishment Dec. 4, 2018 in a ceremony “Honoring Californians who change the world” at the California Museum in Sacramento. There, alongside Joan Baez, Belva Davis, Thomas Keller, Robert Redford, and Fernando Valenzuela, Arlene was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Jerry Brown.

You can watch a recording of the Dec. 4, 2018 induction ceremony here (skip ahead to minute 38 or 39 if you’re in a hurry). You can also learn more about Arlene’s life and how she learned of her selection from these stories in the Bay City News and the SF Chronicle. And you might even be motivated to learn more about the six classes of toxic commercial chemicals that contaminate so many modern consumer products (children’s pajamas, furniture upholstery, and more) at sixclasses.org.

2 Photos from the induction ceremony and another from the California Museum exhibit honoring Arlene:

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X-ray Diffractometer is Operational

For the past 20+ years, students doing crystallography projects in Prof. Arthur Glasfeld‘s [1989-] lab have relied on instrumentation made available to them by generous friends at OHSU.  That will remain true, except the OHSU instrumentation will now live at Reed.  As the structural biologists at OHSU have shifted to electron microscopy, thanks in large part to an NIH national facility housed at the university, the x-ray set-up was no longer getting much use. Through the generosity of Peter Barr-Gillespie ’81, the chief research officer at OHSU, the instrument was donated to Reed this Fall. Together with Randy Hicks (laboratory & department manager) and Rob Jensen (instrumentation chemist), Arthur spent the early part of this month setting up the device in its new home in the Chemistry building.

Arthur describes the instrument and its capabilities as follows: “We now have a fully functional single crystal x-ray system with a cryo-system for flash cooling crystals and doing data collection at cryogenic temperatures. Four successful data sets have already been collected from test protein crystals and from the independent study project of Dorothy Cheng ’20. We can also collect data on small molecule crystals, and I hope to learn more about processing that data and doing structure solutions in the coming weeks.”

This instrument complements the x-ray powder diffractometer that had been the department’s sole method for performing diffraction experiments for many years.

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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”:

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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?”

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Mary Katherine Raymond Johansson ’91 Delivers 2018 Dunne Lecture

Mary Katherine’s presentation on April 5th was titled, “From Reed Class of ’91 to Developing Pro-Fluorescent Assays at a Biotech Startup”. Mary captivated her Reed audience with her personal and chemical history that spanned three decades, multiple generations of the Raymond and Johansson families, and research projects ranging from 15N NMR to protein photophysics. Continue reading

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Chemistry Grads at 2018 Reunion

Chemistry grads have been diffusing through the building this past week in advance of 2018 Reunion. Thank you for taking the time to say “Hello” and to share your stories of graduate school, work, and family life.

A list of the grads we saw:

  • Class of 1992 – Melissa Melby
  • Class of 2003 – Kristin Coan, Peter Jordan, Rachael Relph
  • Class of 2006 – Susan Beaver
  • Class of 2012 – Li Zha
  • Class of 2013 – Emma Farley, Wade (Spike) Horbinski, Erin Jacot, Ilsa Kirby, Kayla Sheridan
  • Class of 2014 – Ari Remmel, Erin Sheffels, Veronica Stewart
  • Class of 2015 – Christina Johnson, Jacob Luton
  • Class of 2016 – Sofia Claesson, Natalie Stone

And three photos of our post-Reed chemists: Continue reading

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EPA Awards Grant for Diesel Monitoring

As anyone who has waited in traffic behind a diesel-powered vehicle knows, there’s something especially noxious about diesel exhaust. We can hope that the manufacturers of diesel-powered vehicles are trying to clean up their act, but, in the mean time more vehicles, particularly container trucks and railroad engines, are moving through SE Portland around the Brooklyn rail yards on the west side of campus, and no one really knows what is happening to local air quality. That’s where environmental chemists, Prof. Juliane Fry (Reed) and Prof. Linda George (Portland State University), enter the picture. The US EPA has awarded the Reed-PSU team a $466,276 grant to monitor emissions in the Portland area for 2 years. Other grant partners include Oregon DEQ, Neighbors for Clean Air, Multnomah County, and City of Portland. To learn more about this research study, check out the Reed magazine (“Reed and Partners Win EPA Grant to Profile Diesel Exhaust”, 7 May 2018).

Related links:

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Alison Butler ’77 Receives ACS Bader Award in Bioinorganic Chemistry

Earlier this year the American Chemical Society announced the recipients of its 2018 national awards. Over 50 areas were recognized, ranging from scientific inventions and discoveries to contributions to the art of teaching, from exceptional work by graduate students and early career investigators to senior researchers who have blazed trails for others to follow.

UC Santa Barbara professor and Reedie, Alison Butler ’77, recipient of the Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry, stands squarely in the trailblazer category. Her award citation reads: “For elucidating the bioinorganic chemistry of the marine environment, including the chemistry of siderophores and vanadium haloperoxidases.”

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Alumni News from Reed Magazine, March 2018

Home Away from Home, the March 2018 issue of the Reed magazine, focuses on the newest, large construction project to hit campus. Located at the north end of the “bouncy bridge” and rising several stories into the sky, Reed’s newest dormitory building is already taking shape summer with completion scheduled for 2019. The cover article (p. 20) explains the special features that went into the building’s design, and calls attention to the fact that the new dorm will make on-campus housing available to nearly 80% of the current student body, a status that has not been achieved since the 1920’s (see graph p. 26-7).

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Alumni News from the Reed Magazine, December 2017

The December 2017 magazine that appeared on my doorstep over winter break was titled “Into Oblivion” and contained sad news to match: an obituary for Reed College’s longtime tai chi teacher, David Barrett ’79.

I received my first tai chi lessons from Dave back in spring 2003, standing in the gym alongside half a dozen Reed students, spending the entire year learning the full hand form, and then continuing to practice with Dave, his new batch of Reed students, and (when my schedule permitted) his off-campus regulars. Every April Dave would take some time out of class to share stories about the Renn Fayres of his student days in the late ’70’s. These nearly always included a nod in my direction, accompanied by the question, “am I right, Professore?” Dave’s message was always on point: enjoy the end of classes and stay healthy and safe. As the start of classes approached each fall, I always looked forward to reuniting with him on the South Lawn to talk about tai chi practice, his summer travels, our families, and anything else that came to mind. He was a terrific teacher. He was also a wise, good friend and, like everyone who crossed his path, I miss him dearly.

Chemistry-related news was sparse in December ’17, but the random bits that emerged had their own distinctive flavor. Continue reading

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