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In Memoriam: Benjamin Boussert


When Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana in late August 2005, chemistry grad student Emory Chan's thoughts turned to his hometown of Baton Rouge. His first reaction was to talk with a good friend and fellow chemistry grad student from Baton Rouge. But Chan's friend Benjamin Boussert had died the previous month in an auto accident that had also claimed the lives of chemistry grad students Jason Choy and Giulia Adesso.

"I didn't know Ben back in Baton Rouge," says Chan, "but we had led parallel lives." Chan's sister went to the same high school as Boussert, and both grew up around the campus of Louisiana State University, where Chan's mother is a geochemist and Boussert's father is the master glass blower for the LSU College of Basic Sciences.

Boussert and Chan were both students in the research group of Professor Paul Alivisatos, where they first became friends. "We'd spend hours talking about science, soccer and Baton Rouge," says Chan. Some of Chan's favorite memories of Boussert are from a ski trip with the members of their group, where Boussert spent hours in the kitchen. "Ben loved to cook," says Chan. "Family friends say he acquired his passion and skills from his mother."

Although a memorial scholarship has been set up in Boussert's name at LSU, Ben's friends wanted a memorial in the Bay Area. "Ben really came of age in Berkeley," says Chan. "He had lived at home as an LSU undergrad, and his time here was his first chance to get out on his own and discover who he was. He loved living here."

Chan and other friends of Boussert have started the Benjamin Boussert Memorial Fund in the College of Chemistry to "ensure that Ben's memory lives on in a place that he truly loved and where people loved him."

Contributions to Boussert's memorial fund can be made through the following website by specifying the "Benjamin Boussert Memorial Fund #M8251" in the special instructions box:

Donations can also be sent to Jane Scheiber at the College of Chemistry:

Jane Scheiber
Assistant Dean, College Relations
College of Chemistry
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1460
(510) 642-8782

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