News from Chemistry

Kenneth Raymond, Chair

As I write this article, I am approaching the last couple of weeks of my tenure as Department Chair. On July 1, Paul Bartlett will succeed me.

As I look back over the last three years, I'm happiest about our success in faculty recruitment and retention. Each retention was successful and our last six faculty recruitment attempts have been successful, as well. Two years ago, Don Tilley, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, was recruited from UC San Diego while being recruited by Cornell. Doug Gin, a polymer chemist, was recruited the same year as an Assistant Professor. Last year, Carolyn Bertozzi, a bio-organic chemist, and Ron Cohen, an atmospheric chemist, were recruited as Assistant Professors. This year we were delighted when Professor Jean Fréchet, a highly distinguished polymer chemist at Cornell, accepted our offer of a senior faculty position. Professor Fréchet will come to Berkeley on January 1, 1997. Jeffrey Long, a solid state inorganic chemist, will join our faculty as Assistant Professor on July 1, 1997, after a one-year leave. In every case, these recruitments are of individuals who are very much in demand; there was intense competition from other institutions. It is a tribute to our University and our faculty that Berkeley was able to attract these outstanding additions to our academic community.

Three years ago, as the University continued to suffer from the protracted economic recession in California, it was difficult to be optimistic and it was easy to forget the extraordinary strength of this campus. Over the last year, as the economic news has brightened, it was particularly heartening to have the report of the National Research Council, which placed the Berkeley campus in such a preeminent position for graduate education and, in particular, ranked our Chemistry Department as first in the country! Although three cycles of early retirement programs reduced the size of our faculty from 56 full-time equivalents (FTE) to 46, as indicated earlier we have made a number of key new appointments. We also have several of our emeritus faculty continuing active research roles and some, recalled as Professors in the Graduate School, continuing graduate student supervision, classroom teaching, or administration.

Meanwhile, our faculty have continued to garner awards and honors. Carolyn Bertozzi was named to the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Doug Gin was awarded a Regents Junior Faculty Fellowship, which he subsequently declined because he received other funding! Bill Miller has been awarded the very prestigious Hirshfelder Prize in recognition of his research in theoretical chemistry. Brad Moore was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Nacho Tinoco has been named to receive the E. R. Cole Award of the Biophysical Society, and I am happy to say that as of July 1, both Professor Kim and I will be Miller Research Professors for the fall of 1996.

Three years have gone by very rapidly. I hope to have left things so that Paul won't have too difficult a time getting started. Most important, the day-to-day supervision of the Department activities, under the stewardship of Betty Rancatore and the hard-working staff of the Chemistry office, is more organized and efficient. We have procedures that are carried forward from one year to the next for problems, such as teaching assistant assignment, that are more or less the same each semester. We have a new computer system for keeping track of all academic personnel. This links payroll, graduate student recruiting, and faculty recruiting. For example, when new graduate students arrive they are already in our database; and as they change from research support to teaching support and back again, these changes are in a database shared between Payroll and the Graduate Unit. This eliminates a lot of paper shuffling and possible errors. This project, supervised by Beverly Skinner, has involved much of the staff. While it required an initial investment of time and money, we hope that this will be well repaid over the next several years.

As Tan Hall nears completion, the renovation project in Latimer Hall, funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is proceeding, although more slowly than initially planned. The project will provide renovated laboratory space in the western portions of the fourth through eighth floors of Latimer Hall (including some renovations already completed that were a part of the University's matching contribution for this grant). Renovation of Latimer Hall continues to be the most important priority for the various kinds of synthetic chemistry research of our faculty.

Continuing what has become a tradition (i.e., the third time), the Chemistry Department hosted a reception on Monday evening, March 25, 1996, at the American Chemical Society Meeting in New Orleans. About one to two hundred friends and former alumni attended the reception. We were excited to have Jean and Janet Fréchet come by, since Jean had announced his decision to join our faculty shortly before the meeting. Jeff Long used the occasion to announce his acceptance of Berkeley's offer of a position as Assistant Professor! Among the attendees were Pete Dregovich (B.S. 1988), Agouron Pharmaceutical; Klaus Theopold (Ph.D., 1982), University of Delaware; Ekkehardt Hahn (postdoc), Frie University, Berlin; Laura Greenfield (Ph.D., 1989), Procter and Gamble; Joe Richmond, Springer-Verlag; Vicki Colvin (Ph.D., 1994), AT&T; Andy Borovik (postdoc), Kansas State; George Sheppard (Ph.D., 1988), Abbott Labs; and Dan Stack (postdoc), Stanford. We continue to be grateful for the support we have received from our friends and alums the last few years and I am pleased they enjoyed this chance to get together on a festive occasion.

I am looking forward to a family vacation in Alaska this summer. Best wishes to Paul Bartlett and thanks to all of you who have helped the Department during the last three years!