Chair’s Letter Fall 2019

Dear IU Chemistry Colleagues, Alumni, and Friends,

I am very pleased to welcome you to the inaugural electronic issue of our Association of Indiana University Chemists Alumni Journal. So very much has happened since the last print version, and given the pace of news, we hope you will enjoy connecting with this format, which will be updated several times per year.

First and foremost, 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 (July 2015 – June 2018), not to mention his service as Associate Chair in the preceding years.  He has been a VERY tough act to follow.  We have also had a transition at the College Level.  IU Physicist and former Vice Provost for Research, Prof. Rick Van Kooten, moved into the College’s Executive Dean position on July 1 this year.  Our own colleague, Prof. Jeff Zaleski, replaced Dean Van Kooten as Vice Provost for Research.

In the past two years, we celebrated the well-deserved promotions of several of our colleagues.  Profs. Megan Thielges and Yan Yu are now Associate Professors with tenure, and Profs. Lane Baker, Jeremy Smith and Steve Tait 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 Prof. Jared Lewis (joined in fall, 2018), 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.  In addition, Prof. J.P. Gerdt joined our faculty in summer, 2019; his laboratory is beginning to 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 growing our already outstanding cohort of teaching faculty. Kim Arnold, Deborah Snaddon, and Thielges group alum Rachel Horness, are now lecturers. We are also very lucky to have Sara Mata as our visiting lecturer, and Sarah Hill joining our wonderful adjunct lecturers.

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.  Cheryl Johnson, who has a very long history in Chemistry, is retiring at the end of 2019.  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. Megan Thielges was named a 2019 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, following her receiving the 2018 Emerging Leader in Molecular Spectroscopy Award for achievements and aspirations of young molecular spectroscopists.  Profs. Krishnan Raghavachari and Michael VanNieuwenhze were elected as 2019 AAAS Fellows.  Profs. David Clemmer and Gary Hieftje were named in the top 20 Analytical Power List.  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. Nicola Pohl received 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.  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, and the 2019 W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service.  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.  Profs. Srini Iyengar and Charles Dann, III were recipients of this award in 2019.

Over the past year, our endowed lecture series has continued to support visits by several prominent scientists.  Chemistry also hosted a number of outstanding speakers in annual symposia, such as the Materials Symposium in July, with Dr. Kimberly Cross, the Global Director from Ecolab, as the keynote speaker.  This fall, we hosted a number of speakers at the 29th Annual Inorganic Alumni symposium, which included presentations from Dr. Ann Schake from LANL, and Dr. Ba Tran, now at PNNL, among others.  In addition, we hosted the 10th Annual Watanabe Symposium, which included talks given by Prof. Graham Cooks from Purdue and Prof. Tom Muir from Princeton, among others.  The exchange of ideas with top scientists from all areas and edges of chemistry is invaluable to both the students and the faculty.

Prof. David Giedroc was successful in renewing the NIH 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

Herman B Wells Endowed Professor