Letter from the chair Sept. 2008

Letter From The Department Chair

Department of Chemistry

Newman and Wolfrom Laboratory
100 West 18th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1185
September 2008

Dear Alumnus,

Summer is the time at a University when one can take a moment to look back at the past academic year and plan for the coming one. Looking back, Chemistry at OSU had a good 2008 academic year. Our undergraduate enrollments continue to grow and we taught just under 80,000 credit hours of chemistry which is 50% more than our nearest rivals in the big 10, Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois. We also had some exciting events with alumni. At the spring ACS national meeting in New Orleans, OSU alumni held a symposium in the Carbohydrate Division entitled "Sugar Alley". This celebrated the work done at OSU on carbohydrate chemistry and lives of Professor Wolfrom and Horton and their coworkers. Professor Horton and his wife, Jane, were present along with many of the former coworkers who came from all over the US and the world to attend. At the end of the meeting, there was a celebratory dinner sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and the OSU Development Office.

In April, we had the 2nd Sheldon Shore Lecture and Professor Daryle Busch returned to present the lecture. This was a great occasion for a reunion as was the Devon Meek Memorial Lecture which was given by alumnus Dr. Jeffrey Bricker, a former coworker with Dr. Professor Shore, who is now Director of Research, at Union Oil Products. Dr. Bricker spoke eloquently on the energy problems that we face.

In May we had the 3rd Leo Paquette Legacy Lectures in organic chemistry which featured four speakers: Dr. Ian Davies, Professor Jeffrey Johnston, Professor Marvin Miller, and Professor Scott Nelson, followed by a reception and dinner.

In June we hosted the regional ACS meeting in Columbus. Dr. Bruce Bursten returned as President of the ACS and we held a reception and dinner for OSU alumni chemists at this meeting, many of whom had returned for a celebratory symposium in honor of Professor David Hart on the occasion of his 60th birthday. The speakers at the Hart Symposium were: Paul Weider, Daniel Kuzmich, Wen-Lian Wu, Erick Young, Cheng-Yi Chen, David Young, Viresh Rawal, and David Evans.

Also in June, Professor Terry Miller hosted the 62nd Molecular Spectroscopy Symposium and during this a special session honoring Professor Russ Pitzer was organized. After 40 years at OSU and having served as Chair of the Department and Director of the Ohio Super Computer Center, Russ is retiring from active duty but will be in the department as Professor Emeritus.

Pictures from these several events are posted on the web and CD's of the Sugar Alley Symposium and the Paquette Symposium are available upon request by contacting Therese O'Donnell-Leonard at tleonard@chemistry.ohio-state.edu.

One of the highlights of Spring Quarter was a visit to the department by President E. Gordon Gee. He announced that the University's top building priority will be for a joint Chemistry-Chemical Engineering building that will be where the old Lord Hall and Cellar snack bar were located. The new building will house synthetic chemistry and those currently in the Evans laboratory will be relocated there. In phase 2, Evans will be replaced. All this comes at a cost, and chemistry has to raise a significant sum as part of these plans: $12.5M in the first phase. If all goes according to plan the new building will be occupied in the fall of 2014.

In other news it was also announced that there will be a reunification of the colleges of Arts and Sciences. The details of this restructuring are still uncertain but the immediate effect has been to unite MAPS and Biosciences into one unit under the interim directorship of Matt Platz, who many of you will recall is a chemist.

Three of our young faculty received the prestigious NSF CAREER Awards: John Herbert, Dennis Bong, Christopher Jaroniec and Yiying Wu, were awarded a Cottrell Research Fellowship. Professor Susan Olesik was the 2008 recipient of the ACS Award for encouraging disadvantaged students into careers in chemistry. Professor Terry Miller received the OSU Award for Distinguished Service and Professor Heather Allen the OSU Diversity Award.

All in all, the academic year 2008 was a good one, but masked by one notably sad point: Penny Nedblake died very shortly after an operation. This came as a great shock to faculty and staff for few of us had ever known she had gone into the hospital. Penny had worked in the department for 23 years and was assistant to four of the recent chairs of the department. She will be missed but well remembered for her sense of humor and her laugh.

Looking to the future, the 2009 academic year should be a full one. The department will be looking to hire faculty in the areas of synthetic chemistry pertaining to life sciences and chemistry from renewable resources, materials and energy. We anticipate record enrollments in general chemistry and organic chemistry and are opening up new organic teaching labs in Boyd Hall. We will be posting several events of potential interest to alumni who wish to return to campus. The Evans Lectures, October 2 and 3, will be given by Professor Doug Rees whose group determined the structure of the nitrogenase enzyme. On Friday, November 21st, Dr. Thomas Dunning, the Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and former coworker of Prof. Russ Pitzer, will present a special lecture in honor of Russ Pitzer. This will be followed by a reception and dinner at the Blackwell.

Please do keep in touch and come back and see us. Chemistry's great @ Ohio State!

With best personal regards,

Malcolm H. Chisholm
Department Chair and Distinguished University Professor