News from Chemistry, Fall 1997

by Paul A. Bartlett, Chemistry Department Chair

  f you haven't been to the College for a while, there is much that you would not recognize, and of course much that you would. Our new building, Tan Hall, is now occupied by three chemistry groups: Bergman, Stacy, and Tilley, along with colleagues from Chemical Engineering. Several large-scale reconstruction projects are underway to prepare laboratories for Jean Fréchet's group and for Graham Fleming's , who will be fully transferred to Berkeley by the first of the year. Our aging facilities continue to be a source of concern and a high priority for renovation, which we address in an opportunistic fashion when resources become available. Over the years, we hope there will be less and less that you recognize when you return!


New lab construction in Latimer Hall.

 The recent months have brought a host of accolades to members of the department. Assistant Professor Carolyn Bertozzi was elected a Fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and received the 1997 Horace Isbell Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. Ken Raymond was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and Charles Harris was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Two of the nine National Medals of Science awarded this year went to our emeritus faculty: Professors Darleane C. Hoffman and Harold S. Johnston were both honored with this prestigious award.


Profs.' Johnston and Hoffman

In August, it was announced that Gabor Somorjai will receive the von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society. Among the ACS awards recently announced, the top two in physical chemistry went to Berkeley faculty: Alex Pines will receive the Langmuir Award and Graham Fleming the Debye Award at the ACS National Meeting in Houston next March. And, to top off an extraordinary year of announcements, we can point with pride, officially now, to element 106 and its name, Seaborgium ; the IUPAC has rendered its (obviously correct!) final decision.

 A key subject in my last report was the Graduate Division's review of the department that we were in the midst of last spring. I hope you haven't been holding your breath for the conclusion, since the press of other commitments prevented the review committee from finishing up before the summer. While I am confident that the committee's assessment will be very positive, the self-examination stimulated by the review identified a number of issues that we need to address to improve our graduate program and the interactions within the Department and College. Already we are rethinking our graduate course offerings and requirements, for example, and, at the College level, a Seminars for Staff program has been instituted. These seminars provide an opportunity for the support staff in the College to see the end result of their hard work.


Chemistry Chair Bartlett welcoming guests at the SFMOMA reception

 A social event that brought together a lot of the current and past members of the Department was the reception we held jointly with Stanford during the San Francisco ACS meeting last April. Stanford's Carl Djerassi set us up with a unique venue-the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art-and the entire evening proved to be exceptional, with outstanding catered food and refreshments, tours of the galleries, and a DJ who played music in response to the mood of the gathering. There was a good turnout from both departments, some 600 people in all, and much interaction among the two groups. Indeed, it was interesting to see how many people were able to wear both Berkeley and Stanford name tags! Camille Olufson and Jane Scheiber, at Berkeley, and Droni Chiu, at Stanford, get all the credit for an outstanding job of organizing the get-together.

 The face of the Department continues to change as new faculty join our ranks. As noted above, we are happy to welcome Graham Fleming, who moved his group out here from the University of Chicago this fall. Jeff Long who will establish a research group in inorganic and solid state chemistry, began his formal appointment as Assistant Professor this July as well, after a year as a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow in Paul Alivisatos' group. The departure of Adjunct Professor Julie Leary and Associate Professor Steve Pedersen , reported in the last newsletter, proved not to be permanent, and I am pleased that they have decided to remain at Berkeley. Steve returns to help revamp the sophomore organic laboratories and to spearhead the expanding Environmental Health and Safety program in the College; Julie will continue her research in mass spectrometry and leadership of the College analytical facilities.

 Still in place, but with different titles, Birgit Whaley was promoted to full Professor and Jonathan Ellman and Martin Head-Gordon were promoted to Associate Professor, all as of last July 1. Jon is also the holder of the Hildebrand Chair for the next two years. Assistant Professor Yongqin Chen has recently accepted a position at Lucent Technologies. And, I regret to report that we lost another of our emeritus faculty with the passing of William Gwinn on May 5, 1997. Bill received his Ph.D. from Ken Pitzer at Berkeley and was a member of the faculty from 1942 until he retired in 1979.