Dean's Desk, Spring 2001
by Clayton Heathcock

The spring 2001 semester is underway, and we have begun our two big seismic upgrade projects on Latimer and Hildebrand Halls. The first evidence was the erection of construction fencing on the north and south of Latimer Hall and along the south side of Hildebrand. During the first week of December, the first wave of construction workers appeared and began erecting dust containment structures around interior areas where concrete removal will take place. Shortly thereafter, we were treated to the first 'rotohammering' as workers began to drill the first of approximately ten thousand holes that will house the steel dowels to tie the current columns and concrete walls to the new layer of reinforced concrete and provide the necessary shear strength to the building.

On December 11 we held a Town Hall meeting in Pimentel Hall so that members of the College community could meet and discuss the upcoming 15-month project with representatives of campus Capital Projects and Rudolph & Sletten, our general contractor. Although we anticipate many stressful days in the next year, we are trying to take all steps to keep staff and student morale high. One of the more lighthearted efforts was distribution to all staff of a 'stress-management packet' that consisted of various remedies for the trials and tribulations to come (Rolaids, dust mask, ear plugs, stress ball, and a stuffed animal mascot).


As we have described in a previous edition of the Newsletter, the Chemistry Library moved last July to a large room in Doe Library. Librarian Mary Ann Mahoney and her staff will operate from this site until the end of 2001, when they will return to their traditional quarters on the plaza level of Hildebrand. During the diaspora, our faculty and students do not have the 24-hour access to which they have long been accustomed, and the walk to the library is a bit longer. However, every cloud has a silver lining-the California Digital Library recently informed us that we now have a very good site license for SciFinder Scholar, the powerful web-based search utility operated by the Chemical Abstracts Service. Since we can use the CDL resources from any computer in the 'berkeley.edu' domain, this eliminates the need for some visits to the actual bookshelves. (Of course, there is still the big problem that most of the chemical literature prior to the last few years is not yet digitized; it will still be a long time before we no longer need our bound volumes.)

At this point, almost all of Hildebrand Hall from the plaza level through the 4th floor is vacant. The biophysical research laboratories of Professors Klinman, Mathies, and Tinoco moved in mid-January, and five of our theoretical chemistry faculty members will move in mid-February, when their new offices on the 2nd floor of Gilman Hall are completed.


The American Chemical Society announced its major awards at the ACS meeting in Washington during the last week of August, and we were very pleased that two of our number were honored:

* Carolyn Bertozzi, Associate Professor of Chemistry, won the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry sponsored by Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity. This prestigious award is given annually to a scientist who has not "passed his or her 36th birthday on April 30 of the year in which the award will be presented, and must have accomplished research of unusual merit for an individual on the threshold of his/her career."

* Alex Bell, Professor of Chemical Engineering, received the 2001 ACS Award for Creative Research in Homogeneous or Heterogeneous Catalysis sponsored by The Shell Oil Foundation. This is the second year in a row that a Berkeley scientist has received this award-the 2000 award went to Gabor Somorjai!

In addition, Gabor was recently honored by the Puget Sound Division of the American Chemical Society with the 2000 Pauling Medal, a prestigious prize that honors Linus Pauling, the 1954 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.


Three of our chemical engineering faculty, Enrique Iglesia, Alex Bell, and Arup Chakraborty, are the recipients of a ten-year, $10-million research grant from BP directed at the discovery of new heterogeneous catalytic methods for the conversion of methane into useful liquid products. BP is also funding a parallel $10-million effort for homogeneous catalysis at Caltech.


The annual meeting of the College of Chemistry Advisory Board was held on September 29th and 30th. Chaired by Dr. Jim Trainham of DuPont, this high-powered group of academic and industrial chemists and chemical engineers is working with us to formulate a long term program in nanostructured materials.

(left) the College Advisory Board gathers for a photo after meeting to discuss future directions for the college. (left to right) Ed Penhoet, Dean of the School of Public Health, who talked about the Health Science Initiative; Board members John Brauman (Ph.D. '63), Stanford; Paul S. Anderson, DuPont Pharmaceuticals; Wolf-Dieter Busse, Bayer; David Floyd, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Steve Fodor (Postdoc '90), Affymetrix; Michael Keaton (M.S. '67), Maracangalya Ltd.; Michael Ramage, ExxonMobil; Gary Masada, Chevron; Nirmal Chatterjee (Ph.D. '71), Air Products; T. Z. Chu (B.S. '57), retired, co-founder Finnigan Instruments; Chair James Trainham (Ph.D. '79), DuPont; Dean Clayton Heathcock; L. E. "Skip" Scriven (B.S. '52), Minnesota. Richard Alkire also attended the meeting but was absent from the photo.


Hubbard "Bard" Howe peers at work in progress in the Bertozzi lab, right.

During the second week of January, the College hosted a two-day symposium on biochemical engineering. In attendance were faculty, graduate students, and UC Berkeley benefactor Hubbard Howe. Presentations were made by Harvey Blanch, Doug Clark, Jay Keasling, Rich Mathies, David Schaffer, Carolyn Bertozzi, and Jean Fréchet. The symposium also included a wine reception at The Faculty Club and a dinner that was attended by Chancellor Robert Berdahl and Vice Chancellor Don McQuade. Biochemical engineering is already an important research focus of the College, and we anticipate significant growth in this area in coming years.


Alex Pines teaches Digital Chem 1A to students via the Internet.

The final topic I would like to tell you about is Digital Chem 1A, an initiative in innovative learning that is being developed by Professor Alex Pines and Dr. Mark Kubinec. Chem 1A is our largest course, with an enrollment of approximately 2000 students each year. Because of the size of the class, each lecture must be given several times in Pimentel Hall, our 550-seat lecture theater. Digital Chem 1A makes extensive use of the World Wide Web, using streaming video, to 'webcast' the course in real time. This gives students an option to actually participate in the course from their dormitory rooms, or as a group of students from a dormitory lounge. It obviously will open the opportunity for distance learning, wherein students who are not even physically in Berkeley can benefit from a course taught by one of our leading faculty members. Most importantly, the lectures and demonstrations are archived so that students can readily review them using the WWW. Digital Chem 1A is still being developed, but you can take a look at it on the course website: http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~chem1a/

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