2022 Letter from the Chair

Dear Alumni, Friends, and Colleagues,

This has been an exciting and eventful year in the Department of Chemistry. We are tremendously grateful to Prof. Caroline Chick Jarrold for her tireless and fearless leadership as Department Chair. She led us through a very challenging time and has built our department by recruiting outstanding new faculty, staff, and students. We are glad to be back to in-person classes and seminars and we notice that travel to conferences is picking up again (although we still seem to have quite a few zoom meetings).

The big news in our Department this year is the arrival of three new faculty :

  • Prof. Philip Shushkov joined our Department in August 2022 as Assistant Professor. Prof. Shushkov is coming to us from Tufts University and is an expert in theoretical approaches to address challenges in quantum information science and energy conversion.
  • Prof. Eric Bloch is joining our Department as the Veronica Siedle Associate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry (arriving January 2023). He is coming from the University of Delaware and will study small molecule storage and activation with porous molecules.
  • Prof. Jose Goicoechea joins the Department as the Veronica Siedle Chair in Inorganic Chemistry. Prof. Goicoechea is coming to us from the University of Oxford. His group will study the synthesis and reactivity of novel compounds based on Earth-abundant elements, with an aim to develop chemicals that permit previously unprecedented transformations.

Our building is undergoing renovation to prepare labs and offices for our new faculty and to update spaces for new equipment. If you have a chance to visit (and we hope you do!), please excuse our dust. The Department is working with the University research office to install a helium recovery system to support our NMR facilities. The College is acquiring a new aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope for the Electron Microscopy Center.

As outlined in articles in this edition of our Alumni Journal, several faculty received significant awards and recognitions this year. These include several national awards: Distinguished Professor David Clemmer received the 2023 Field and Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry, Adjunct Professor Bill Carroll received the ACS Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, Professor Amar Flood received the R. A. Glenn Award for Best Paper in the Energy and Fuels Division Symposium of the ACS Spring 2022 Meeting, Professor Michael VanNieuwenhze elected into the American Academy of Microbiology and named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Professor Steve Tait was named Fellow of the AVS Science and Technology Society (American Vacuum Society). There were also significant recognitions awarded from with IU, including: Professor Sara Skrabalak named the inaugural Distinguished Mentor Awardee in the College of Arts of Sciences, Distinguished Professors David Clemmer and Martin Jarrold received the Wylie Medal from IU President Pamela Whitten for their achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship, Professor Steve Tait received the James P. Holland and Morley Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service, Professor Laura Brown received 2022 David and Cheryl Morley Award for Outstanding Teaching in the ASURE Program. Dr. Brown gave a lecture in our Department in October about her development of the ASURE program.

In February 2022, Professor James Reilly passed away. Jim joined our Department in 1979 was a dedicated mentor, an outstanding colleague, a former department chair, and an excellent teacher. Dr. Kevin Gilbert, a research scientist in the Department from 1980-2002, passed away in October 2022. Kevin developed computer algorithms to model properties of organic compounds and collaborated with many scientists in the Department.

The Spring 2023 meeting of the American Chemical Society will be held in Indianapolis. We are excited to have this major conference so close to IU. Thanks to the generous donors to the IU Friends of Chemistry fund, the Department is sponsoring the registration fees for 99 graduate students, who will attend the meeting to present their research and to take advantage of the outstanding professional development opportunities there. The Department will also host a reception for Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends on Monday, March 27, 2023, 5-8 pm, at the Indiana State Museum.

Another major event in Spring 2023 will be the Dennis G. Peters Memorial Symposium to be held on Saturday, April 15, 2023 on our campus. More information, including registration for further information, can be found on the symposium website (click here).

Our Department awarded more than $114,000 in scholarships to 57 students. We also awarded Graduate Awards and Fellowships to 31 of our Ph.D. Graduate Students. We are very grateful to the many Alumni and Friends of our Department who make these awards, scholarships, and fellowships possible. They are very impactful in helping our students succeed and in recognizing their excellence and encouraging them along a path toward an impactful career in the sciences. During the past year, Chemistry Degrees were awarded to 37 Ph.D. recipients, 6 M.S. recipients, 17 B. A. Biochemistry, 33 B.S. Biochemistry, 29 B.A. Chemistry, and 18 B.S. Chemistry recipients (total of 91 undergraduate degrees).

Our Department has formed a new External Advisory Board, consisting of six distinguished alumni of the Department. Dawn Brooks, Bill Carroll, Paul Coleman, Tim Hanusa, Todd Johnson, and Chris Welch have agreed to serve on our inaugural board. We are grateful for their willingness to serve the Department in this capacity.

The Department is undergoing a staff reorganization process to try to find a better balance between workload and staff available for different tasks in the Department. This has involved a lot of discussion with current staff as well as faculty, scientists, and students, as well as many meetings with the College, but we are making progress and designing a staff structure that facilitates better workflows and a more enjoyable workplace environment for all members of the Department.

Thank you for reading through this letter. We have many more articles in the 2022 edition of our Alumni Journal and we hope that you will enjoy them. We love to hear updates from our Alumni, so please do not hesitate to reach out with news and updates (or with suggestions for our newsletter) to chemchr@indiana.edu.

Best wishes for a happy and successful 2023!


Steve Tait
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemistry