“Ultra-liberal Reed College in Oregon is doing away with textbooks” is exactly how humorist P.J. O’Rourke described us when he started his yarn on yesterday’s (Nov 15, 2008) Bluff the Listener segment on NPR’s news-comedy show, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. His fantasy (perhaps shared by more than a few students and professors?) featured Reed getting rid of all textbooks in order to fight “the unregulated hegemony of textbook publishers” and relying on bogus web sites and web calculators to support all student work. The listener turned out to be pretty savvy and didn’t buy the story. To hear the entire segment, go to This Week’s Show and select Bluff the Listener (runs 6:24). Or, to save time, you can jump in at 3:33 and listen O’Rourke’s tale of over-enthusiastic web-based education.
As Friday afternoon ran down and the halls grew quiet, a real “alumni surprise” walked through Arthur Glasfeld‘s door: Phil Wilk. I went across the hall to listen in and heard about Phil’s academic exploits. After graduating from Reed, he went to Berkeley to work with Glenn Seaborg (Nobel ’51) and Darlene Hoffman (Priestley ’00). Sadly, Seaborg passed away in 1999, but Phil continued his work at synthesizing ultra-heavy elements and eventually earned his Ph.D.. In the last few years, he has set up shop at the Lawrence Livermore labs, a short trip from Berkeley down the freeway and through the Altamont Pass.
Who else but Katie would send an email saying, “Hello again, it’s your favorite wayward alumna back to haunt you again … I’m coming into town Friday”? So Friday afternoon rolled around and who should walk into my office but Katie herself. I had been warned.
Katie is still working at the U. Washington Medical Center in Seattle (she tells me that the chemistry building is just across the street and she occasionally sees Reedies on campus), but she is gearing up to attend graduate school in engineering. She also showed off some impressive manual dexterity – pain-free at last! – and is eager to move on with her life. Good luck, Katie!
Jordan returned to Reed yesterday, visited with students and faculty, and presented a seminar based on his doctoral research at Caltech: “Supplying Global Energy Carbon-Free: A Combinatorial Approach to Finding Solutions”. Jordan’s hair is much shorter than we all remember, but the smile and chemistry were vintage Jordan. He told us, that according to best estimates, controlling CO2 levels in the atmosphere to any significant extent requires producing 10-20 TW (that’s terawatts) of energy worldwide from sources that won’t release greenhouse gases. The only realistic source of energy on that scale is solar energy and Jordan described his recent efforts to find metal oxide semiconductors that can split water to H2 (fuel) + O2 in a solar-powered photochemical reaction.
Environmental Chemistry at Reed College. Reed College is inaugurating a new interdisciplinary program in environmental studies. To support this program, the Chemistry Department invites applications for a tenure-track position in Environmental Chemistry beginning August 2009. Preference will be given to candidates with additional expertise in either physical chemistry or analytical chemistry/instrumentation. The successful candidate will be expected to teach advanced courses in their area of expertise and to contribute to the introductory chemistry course sequence as well as an interdisciplinary team-taught course in environmental studies. Teaching duties also include advising senior thesis students in year-long research projects. Excellent facilities for teaching and research are available, including a 400 MHz multinuclear NMR spectrometer, housed in a 45,000 sq. ft. dedicated chemistry building. A Ph.D. is required, and postdoctoral experience is desirable. Submit curriculum vitae, an outline of research interests, statement of teaching philosophy, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to Arthur Glasfeld, Chair, Chemistry Search Committee, Reed College, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland, OR 97202-8199. Review of applications will begin on October 24, 2008 and continue until the position is filled. An Equal Opportunity Employer, Reed values diversity and encourages applications from underrepresented groups.
Jordan Katz (Reed ’99, PhD Caltech ’08) has been keeping busy. A few months ago, Caltech News, 42(1), 2008, ran an article called “The Sun Also Catalyzes” that described how Jordan and his thesis advisor, Prof. Nathan Lewis, were using inkjet printers to screen large numbers of metal oxide compounds as potential photocatalysts for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The project, which is co-sponsored by Prof. Bruce Parkinson (Colorado State U.), also involves collaborators at undergraduate colleges. Maggie Geselbracht and two Reed students, Megan Baker ’10 and Alex Perez ’09, joined the party this past summer by setting up their very own inkjet printer.
Jordan is now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. He will be delivering a research seminar at Reed on September 25 and a few days ago passed along this happy news,
“Dearest Friends and Family, It is with tremendous pleasure that
we announce the birth of Elina, who was born on August 15th at 8:54 PM
in Berkeley. She weighs 7 lbs 7 oz, and is 20.5 inches from head to
toe! Mom and baby Elina are both very healthy. We’ve posted a few photos (with more on the way!) here: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~jordank/Baby/index.html. With love, Jordan and Cecile”
URL correction 9/26: Jordan has closed down the URL listed above. Check http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~jordank/Jordan_Katz/Photos.html to see baby pictures.
The latest issue of the Reed magazine (Summer ’08) was packed with information about chemistry alumni:
In late April, we held the first extramural Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day
celebration at the San Carlos home of Suzanne and Steve Carlson ’93.
About 30 Reedies attended, with many small children present to enjoy
the bouncy castle and liquid nitrogen ice cream, prepared by Bill
Newcomb ’93. more … (the caption doesn’t say, but I think the fellow holding the canister of liquid nitrogen is Bill)
Jeffrey Kovac’ 70 received the 2007-08 L.R. Hesler Award for Teaching and Service from the University of Tennessee. Students, colleagues, and friends established the award – named for the longtime head of the botany department at the university – to recognize outstanding teaching and service to the university. more …
Ethan Smith’ 97 is in his third year as teacher and co-founder of the Village Free School in Portland
In memoriam …
Werner Emanuel Zeller’ 33, March 6. Bud studied chemistry at Reed for three years before transferring to the University of Oregon. He had retired from his medical practice in 1996. more …
John Edwin Robison ’38, December 22, 2003. John received his BA from Reed in chemistry and was a chemist in the paper industry. more …
Rose Jeannette Papac ’49, May 10. Rose Papac attended Reed, and earned her BS in chemistry from Seattle University. After working at Yale University for 40 years, she retired in 2006 in order to complete a comprehensive history of cancer treatments through the ages. more …
Abigail Joy Garcia ’10, May 21. Ava’s major focus at Reed was in chemistry and she received a commendation for academic excellence in 2007. Her mother, Tamara Thomas, and members of the Reed community gathered in the Capeheart lounge on August 26 to celebrate Ava’s life. more in Reed magazine | more in Wickenburg Sun | information about Abigail Garcia Memorial Scholarship Fund
Caught this in the Class notes section of the Reed magazine, Spring ’08:
Ann Erickson ’03 has become engaged to Tommer Wizansky, her classmate at Stanford University graduate school (a photo of Ann and Tommer accompanies the note on p. 49)
Following a 14 month “sabbatical”, the Reed College Chemistry department’s news blog is back in action at a new URL and with fancy new software (provided by CUS) to help us on our way. Look here for new posts while we catch up on 14 months of news and also post new arrivals. Also try out the blog’s new features: comments, search engine, subscription to automatic updates.