Chair’s Letter Spring 2018

Dear IU Chemistry Colleagues and Alumni,

I am very pleased, to have this opportunity to share some the good news, achievements and highlights from the Department over 2018 with you in our inaugural online IU Chemists Alumni Journal!  First, however, I would like to offer sincerest thanks on behalf of the department to Prof. Stephen Jacobson for his three years of service as Chair of Chemistry, not to mention his service as Associate Chair in the preceding years.  He is a VERY tough act to follow.

This past year, we celebrated the well-deserved promotions of several of our colleagues.  Prof. Megan Thielges is now an associate professor with tenure, and Profs. Lane Baker and Jeremy Smith were promoted to the rank of full professor.

In addition, the department had success in recruiting two new faculty to the department.  We are now very fortunate to have as a colleague Associate Prof. Jared Lewis, whose group designs, engineers, and studies the structure and function of enzymes that enable the synthesis of molecules that are difficult to prepare by conventional methods.  We also look forward to Dr. J.P. Gerdt’s joining our faculty in May 2019; his laboratory will uncover and explore the molecular mechanisms that drive cooperation and competition between organisms relevant in human health.  We warmly welcome them both to our Department! Furthermore, we have been building on our already outstanding cohort of teaching faculty. Kim Arnold and Deborah Snaddon now have lecturer positions in the department, and Dr. Sarah Hill has joined us as an adjunct lecturer.

The department also saw the retirements of several highly valued members of our community.  Judi Roberts, a long-time anchor of the chair’s office, retired after 25 years.  Delbert Allgood, a beloved member of the team in the machine shop, retired early this fall.  And, finally, Prof. Gary Hieftje, one of the leading figures in Analytical Chemistry, has retired after a remarkably productive and distinguished career.

It will come as no surprise to learn that our excellent faculty have continued to be honored and recognized with awards at all levels.  On the national level, Prof. Nicola Pohl received the 2017 International Fluorous Technologies Award in recognition of major contributions to fluorous chemistry, the 2017 Harry and Carol Mosher Award from the Silicon Valley section of the ACS for outstanding research in chemistry, advancement of chemistry as a profession within the U.S. and world community, and support of the ACS, and the 2018 Melville L. Wolfrom Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry for outstanding service to the division and to the field of carbohydrate chemistry. Prof. David R. Williams received the 2018 ACS Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products, given for outstanding achievements in the analysis, structure elucidation, and chemical synthesis of natural products. Profs. David Clemmer and Martin Jarrold received the ASMS John B. Fenn Distinguished Contribution Award for their pioneering contributions to the development of ion mobility mass spectrometry. Prof. Clemmer was also elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in late 2017.  Prof. Gary Hieftje was named recipient of the SAB award, recognizing his paper “Local cooling, plasma reheating and thermal pinching induced by single aerosol droplets injected into an ICP” as the best published in the Elsevier journal Spectrochimica Acta B in late 2017.  Prof. Megan Thielges Received the 2018 Emerging Leader in Molecular Spectroscopy Award for achievements and aspirations of young molecular spectroscopists toward the advancement of molecular spectroscopy techniques and applications.  Dr. Jill Robinson received the 2018 ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education, for enhancement and professional development of students in the study of analytical chemistry.

Our faculty have also received some of the highest honors from the College and University. To name a few, Prof. Dennis Peters was the inaugural honoree of the College’s 2018 David and Cheryl Morley Career Distinguished Teaching Award.  In addition, Prof. Peters, along with his former student and IU Chemistry Adjunct Prof. Bill Carroll, are also both recipients of the Old Crescent Award, which celebrates individuals whose exceptional philanthropy creates a lasting impact, empowering students and faculty of today and tomorrow in equal measure.   Prof. Cate Reck received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award created by the Bloomington Faculty council to recognize leadership and dedication within the university.  Profs. Bogdan Dragnea and Tom Snaddon both received the 2018 Trustee Teaching Award, recognizing excellence in classroom teaching, outstanding performance in course development or supervision.

Over the past year, our endowed lecture series has continued to support visits by several prominent scientists.  The spring series featured the Raymond Siedle Distinguished Lecturer, Prof. David Milstein from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Ernest Campaigne Distinguished Lecturer, Prof. Dr. Alois Fürstner from the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung.  This fall, Dr. Morris Bullock from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory gave a special Departmental Colloquium.  Chemistry also hosted a number of outstanding speakers in annual symposia, such as the Materials Symposium in July, with Dr. Kenneth F. Miller as the keynote speaker.  This fall, we hosted a number of speakers at the 28th Annual Inorganic Alumni symposium, as well as the the 9th Annual Watanabe Symposium, which highlighted top scientists in the area of virology.  The exchange of ideas with top scientists from all areas and edges of chemistry is invaluable to both the students and the faculty.

The third year of our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program sponsored by NSF was a great success.  Eight of our faculty hosted students from Texas, Puerto Rico, Georgia, Colorado, among other states, providing intensive research projects focused on nanoscale assembly of molecules and materials. The REU students were among the poster presenters at the Annual Materials Symposium.  Our NIH-sponsored Quantitative Chemical Biology training program, which includes participation in the Annual Watanabe Symposium, continues to provide unique training and research opportunities for graduate students.

As many of you know, fluctuations in funding from the university, state, and federal agencies continue to impact our ability to educate the next generation of chemists and keep our department at the forefront of research.  The entire department and I are extremely grateful for your continued and generous support.  Without the contributions of our alumni, friends, and colleagues, we would certainly struggle to meet our research and educational goals.  Because of you, our undergraduate program remains among the strongest in the College, our graduate program is thriving, and our excellent faculty can continue at the highest level of excellence in research.

I hope you enjoy this online version of our Alumni Journal.  We would love to get feedback from you. Additional news updates are regularly posted on the Chemistry website:  Please keep in touch, and if you are in town, be sure to stop in to see us!

Caroline Chick Jarrold
Chair, Department of Chemistry