Diversity and the Faculty Search: News from Chemistry

by Judith Klinman, Chair

The last four months have been quite a roller coaster for all of us, with the war in Afghanistan and the sputtering economy. Education in the state of California, always a political issue, has seemed especially vulnerable. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the governor announced his intention to increase the budget of UC by 1.5 percent next year. While it is not yet clear where this small increase will come from, it has allowed us to back off from severe measures that may have been needed to be implemented, had anticipated budget cuts materialized. The changes in the staff of the Department of Chemistry have begun to settle down, with Christine Rutkowski assuming the position vacated by long-term College of Chemistry employee, Rebecca Pauling. Though Rebecca seems very happy with her new role as Student Affairs Officer in Integrative Biology, she was also very much a presence at the annual Chemistry Department and College of Chemistry Holiday parties. The Chemistry Department office itself is scheduled to undergo much-needed painting and carpeting this summer with some enforced, but not unwelcome, vacation time. Please keep this in mind when trying to contact the department during the month of July.

Faculty hiring has occupied a great deal of effort this fall. The Department has offered a Full Professor position to Steve Leone, who is currently at the University of Colorado. He plans to assume leadership of the chemical sciences beam line at the Advanced Light Source at LBNL and to split his time between guiding new initiatives at LBNL and his professorial position on campus. Leone is an internationally recognized spectroscopist who received his training here at Berkeley with Brad Moore. Initially, most of Leone’s research space is to be located at LBNL; however, he is targeted to relocate to campus once the new Stanley Hall construction is completed and the current space crunch diminishes.

Junior recruiting has also been an important activity recently, and two outstanding candidates have been identified for positions in organic chemistry and experimental physical chemistry. We are currently assembling packages for talented, young scientists, with the hope that they will find the offer of starting their careers at Berkeley “irresistible.” As we go to press, we are pleased to announce that F. Dean Toste has accepted our offer.

One disappointing aspect of the junior search this year, from my vantage point, was the small number of women and minority applicants who responded to the advertised position. For example, only 19 women applied, out of a pool of 160 applicants. Given that half of our undergraduates are women and 35 percent of the graduate students in chemistry are women, we need to step back and examine why so few women and minorities are willing to consider an academic career, as this situation is common at higher institutions around the country. If you have any insights into this problem, please let me know. I would very much appreciate feedback from our alums on this situation.

We are currently in the planning stages for the first annual retreat of the full faculty of the Department of Chemistry next fall. Given the explosion of research opportunities at the interface of chemistry with other scientific disciplines, this retreat will be divided between a discussion of administrative issues and the presentation of lectures highlighting frontier research areas within the department.

Finally, some updates on the faculty: I am very pleased to tell you that Assistant Professor Ron Cohen has been recommended for promotion to tenure. Cohen, a Berkeley trainee, has made important contributions to field and laboratory analyses of atmospheric compounds and their relationship, for example, to ozone levels. John Kuriyan has now moved his laboratory from Rockefeller University and has begun to assume a leadership position on campus among the structural biologists. Jamie Cate has informed me that an article that he coauthored with Harry Noller has been chosen (as one of two) for the AAAS Newcomb-Cleveland Prize; this acknowledges the outstanding publication in Science magazine for 2000-2001. Graham Fleming won the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy; Carlos Bustamante the Biological Physics Prize; Kevan Shokat the Young Investigator Award of the Protein Society; and Daniel Neumark, the Bomen-Michelson Award from the Coblentz Society.





Steve Leone will join our faculty, as will F. Dean Toste.