Great Reed Bake-Off Winner: Maryam Ahmad ’19

Not to be outdone by Brits baking their hearts out in a tent-covered meadow, Reed College mounted its first Great Reed Bake-Off this Winter. You can read all about it (and find more photos) here.

Congratulations to all of the participants who proved beyond any doubt that there are alternatives to Commons food! And a special large flour-y pat on the backs of the championship team: Mélange Ethnique. The M.E. team was comprised of three students from the class of 2019, chem major Maryam Ahmad ’19, bio major Edward Zhu ’19, and linguistics major Ally Watson ’19.

Mélange Ethnique (L to R: Ahmad, Zhu, and Watson) pensively await the judges’ decision.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste the goods that M.E. baked, but I absolutely love the headgear. I can’t help but think that they were inspired by the sight of a beret-capped organic chem prof who is seen all about campus.

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2018 Undergraduate Poster Symposium and Career Fair

As our alumni well know, the typical Reed chemistry “undergraduate” spends a lot of time in the research lab. Senior thesis. Summer research. Need I say more?

Ever since his arrival in Portland, Oregon, retired chemistry Prof. David Reingold has been spearheading an annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium and Career Fair under the mantle of the Portland ACS section. The symposium/fair has been held at PSU every year in October, and Reed students have always made a fine showing (see Maileen Nakashima ’19 Explores Sulfur/Iodine Flux Synthesis for a description of the 2017 fair).

The 2018 symposium/fair featured, if anything, more Reed participation than ever and several Reed students also won prizes. Here’s a link to the 2018 Program Book which describes the full event. The Reed presenters are listed below, and several won prizes (link to photos, ** = 1st prize poster, * = 2nd prize poster):

  • Biochemistry
    1. ** Characterization of NiaR: A regulator of NAD biosynthesis, Dorothy Cheng ’19, Maileen Nakashima ’19, Prof. Arthur Glasfeld
    2. * Bioinorganic investigations of chalcogen detoxification proteins, Hayden Adoff ’19, A. Majumdar, Prof. Kelly Chacón
  • Chemical Education
    1. ** Interactive web-book design in R chemical pedagogy, James Vesto ’20, Dr. Danielle Cass, Prof. Natasja Swartz
  • Inorganic Chemistry
    1. Evaluation of air-free glassware using the ketyl test, Lexi Carlson ’20, Prof. Miriam Bowring
    2. ** Assessing catalytic activity of roadside samples, Josephine Keller ’20, Marayam Ahmad ’19, Oleksandr Lushchyk ’17, Hunter N. Wise ’18, Prof. Miriam Bowring
  • Organic Chemistry
    1. * C-H functionalization of saturated cyclic amines, Charis A. Roberts ’19, Jose B. Roque, Prof. Richmond Sarpong (UC Berkeley)
    2. An adventure in phosphate ligand coordination to bismuth(III), Zesean M. Ali ’20, Gabriela M. Bailey ’20, Nicole P. Kretekos ’20, Elena A. McKnight ’20, Claire Milander-Mashlan ’20, Jake L. Stromberg ’20, Prof. Rebecca L. LaLonde
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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

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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