Dear Harvey Mudd Chemists and Friends,
The rhythm of the year was familiar: the anticipation and joy of summer research, students and faculty deserting campus in August for well-deserved travel, rest, and relaxation, the frenzy of starting fall classes and meeting new students, time to think, write, and reflect between the terms, launching head-long into spring term, catching up with alumni at reunion, and hearing talks at Presentations Days before celebrating our seniors at their graduation.
Playing atop that rhythm were some notable highlights: Fourteen chemistry majors and joint majors in chemistry and biology graduated; three of them studied abroad during their junior year. Fifteen students and five faculty traveled to the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco in March to present papers and posters. In addition, we hosted a gathering at the ACS meeting where over fifty alumni, parents, and friends caught up with each other and recent happenings at the college. The department continues to place emphasis on non-academic career paths: We worked on job search skills with all majors, hosted seminars from chemists practicing in industry, and launched the Chemistry Internship Program where we placed rising seniors in summer internships with Beckman Coulter. The National Science Foundation once again designated the department as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site in Chemistry, providing three more years of funding to bring students from institutions without a strong research presence to HMC to do research over the summer. With this grant, HMC has amassed more chemistry REU site awards than any other college or university in the nation! The new liquid chromatograph-ion trap mass spectrometer was installed over winter break and immediately put to use in support of teaching and research.
Roman de Jesus, HMC’s very own oceanographer, is moving to SUNY-Stony Brook after a two-year appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Todd Clements ’97 will be joining us in the fall for a one-year appointment.
Curricular change is afoot all across campus as we prepare to offer the new core curriculum in 2010-2011. Three new core chemistry courses (titled Structure, Energetics, and Dynamics) were piloted this year, as was the new core writing course taught by faculty from all departments. Our own Adam Johnson was one of five faculty to pilot the course. The Claremont Unified School District/Harvey Mudd College Collaboration in Science, Mathematics, and Writing (a.k.a. The Lead Project) was offered for its final time this fall. We have mapped the distribution of lead in soil from vehicle emissions at all four Title I elementary schools in the Claremont Unified School District. The project is likely to be reborn in a year as a Choice Laboratory. (Choice Laboratories are a smorgasbord of multidisciplinary laboratory experiences in the new core from which students elect one at some point in their sophomore year.)
On the physical infrastructure front, planning is almost complete for a new, state-of-the-art Teaching and Learning Building to house all classrooms on campus on the site of Thomas-Garrett. Closer to home, Superlab got a much-deserved facelift and functional upgrade last summer with new paint, flooring, lighting, and in-house nitrogen and vacuum systems.
Throughout all of these changes, we’re working hard at staying connected to you. In addition to this newsletter, we continue our grand experiment with Facebook. If you are a Facebook user, please join the Harvey Mudd College Chemistry group (at www.groups.to/hmcchemistry) to get updates on departmental and campus happenings. We also launched Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds for prospective students, available at facebook.com/hmcchem, twitter.com/hmcchem, and hmcchem.tumblr.com, respectively. Finally, please take a moment to fill out the alumni update on this page (also available at www.hmc.edu/chemalumupdate )—let us know where you are, what you’re doing, and, broadly defined, what’s new with you.
We hope the new academic year finds you well. If you will be in the Anaheim area at the ACS meeting on March 27, look us up. Of course, if you pass through Claremont any time, stop by. We look forward to hearing from you!
With warmest regards,
Hal Van Ryswyk