News from Chemistry

Kenneth Raymond, Chair

 I am happy to report that 1996 has begun with unusually mild weather for Berkeley and milder financial weather for the University. Following some very difficult years for the State of California, whose economy was probably impacted more by the changes following the end of the Cold War than was any other state, the future now looks better. The nation-wide reduction in support for research and development, with concomitant decreases in federal research funds and jobs for our graduates, promotes continuing re-evaluation of the size and content of our teaching program. However, campus-wide federal funding to UC Berkeley has continued to grow in absolute terms for the last two years. Most encouraging was the National Research Council's report, a 740-page study which took four years to complete and evaluated the graduate programs of the best 274 universities in the United States. Our department was rated first in the country. The Berkeley campus was even more impressive in terms of the number its programs rated in the top 10, with 97 percent (35 out of 36) of its programs achieving this ranking. MIT and Harvard, which were tied for second place, had 87 percent of their programs in the top ten. Berkeley's large lead in its first place designation is now even bigger than it was in 1982, when the last NRC report was issued.

 Physically the campus also seems to be emerging from a difficult period. There was so much construction going on with new buildings and major renovations that large portions of the Berkeley campus seemed to be permanent construction zones over the last few years. Now a walk through central campus (which I recommend to all of you who return to the campus only occasionally) brings some spectacularly beautiful new vistas. Putting the major storage of the library stacks underground has made the panorama in front of the main library a very beautiful area. As one continues to walk west, the Valley Life Sciences Building is the result of a complete gutting of the old LSB and putting a beautiful, modern interior in its place. The Paleontology Museum and the many open exhibits (including a huge Tyrannosaurus rex) should be included in any campus tour. To the south and east of the Chemistry complex, the construction for the new Business School has finished as an impressive and attractive new addition to the campus. The College of Chemistry's own Tan Hall is nearing completion and renovation projects in Latimer Hall are underway.

 These topics and others were discussed at the reception held by the Department at the PacifiChem Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, the week before Christmas. Several thousand chemists from countries around the Pacific Rim attended the Conference. Since we knew that many of our faculty and a large number of alumni would attend the Conference, the reception, held on Monday, December 18, was planned in large part as a "thank you" from the Department to our alumni and other friends, whose support during the last few difficult years has been especially important. A sampling of those alumni who attended were: Greg Girolami (University of Illinois), Grace Nakayama (Ixsys, Inc.), Roy Periana (Catalytica), Joe Peterson (University of Tennessee), Judith Stein (General Electric), and Ronald Zuckermann (Chiron). Among our own faculty attending were: Dick Andersen, Paul Bartlett, Dean Alex Bell, Dan Neumark, Ken Pitzer, Glenn Seaborg, and Peter Vollhardt. Several family members of faculty also attended. Dan and Ellen Neumark won the prize for the youngest progeny in attendance.

 Last year's awards for outstanding teaching assistants in Chemistry were announced in November. Recipients were: Peter Alaimo, Carmen Barnes, David Carroll, Richard Chamberlain, Virginia Cornish, Felix Csajka, Craig Gerken, Melonie Hall, Dawn Keeney, Dana Borden Lacy, Corey Liu, Mohammad Movassaghi, Michael Tauber, Lydia Tien, and Lisa Williams. Mohammad Movassaghi, who was a graduating senior last spring, also received many other awards, including being chosen as class speaker. He was given a particular distinction in receiving the Bruce Mahan Stellar Teaching Award, which is only infrequently bestowed.

 Other news for prospective graduate students is that we have a new Chemistry Department brochure that highlights our smaller, and noticeably younger, faculty. In a month or two an updated version of the brochure will be on the World Wide Web at: http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/~chemgrad/grad_program/index.html

 In the Department office, Amelia Binas, supervisor of Payroll, returned in August from medical leave and received a very warm welcome back from her colleagues. Maria Panuco, Department support for assistant professors, will be relocating from the Department Office to an office closer to her professors (Bertozzi, Gin and McCusker). The Department has also implemented a new computer system to provide a shared database for graduate student and faculty recruitment, payroll, and record-keeping. This is already having a very beneficial effect in facilitating our recruiting efforts and simplifying paperwork.

 Changes in our faculty include the retirement of John Hearst, effective at the end of 1995. John has had a long and distinguished career at Berkeley and we will miss him as a regular teaching faculty colleague. However, he is eager to devote more time to applied, commercial scientific ventures. He also plans to continue his research program, funded through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Meanwhile, Carolyn Bertozzi officially joined our faculty on January 1, 1996, after being on leave July 1 through December 31, 1995 while completing her postdoctoral research at UCSF. Because she was so near, it was relatively easy for Carolyn to be involved in graduate student recruiting this fall, and she already has students working in her laboratory.

 Other faculty news includes the announcement that Carolyn Bertozzi has received a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Award. Robert Bergman will receive the American Chemical Society Cope Award, and also has been awarded an Honorary Ph.D. Degree from Carleton College, his alma mater. Martin Head-Gordon has received a David and Lucille Packard Foundation Award, which carries with it a very substantial amount of support for his research. Jim Leahy received the Cottrell Scholars Award, and Dan Neumark has received a Humboldt Research Award.

 Once again the year ended with the Chemistry Department party, organized by the Graduate Student Organization. The theme of this year's skit was "A Christmas Carol," with the usual spoofing of current events and self-deprecatory jokes about chemistry and chemists. Our New Year has started as relatively stable and optimistic. I hope this will continue for all of us through the rest of 1996!