Blue ribbons, gold stars, honorable mentions

11 March 2009

Call it chemistry or simply recognition for outstanding achievement, but Berkeley chemists have been turning research into awards gold.

Emeritus professor Andrew Streitweiser, for example, has been honored with the American Chemical Society's Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry, given biennally for "outstanding contributions to research in organic chemistry defined in its broadest sense."

Streitweiser, who has authored hundreds of papers and the textbook Introduction to Organic Chemistry, has continued to do research as an emeritus prof, and still works with undergrads.

Richard SaykallyRichard Saykally

The American Chemical Society has also named Richard Saykally the recipient of its annual Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry. The honor, says the ACS, is presented for "accomplished outstanding research of a theoretical or experimental nature in the field of physical chemistry," with consideration for the scientist's "success as a mentor and colleague." Saykally, the Class of 1932 Professor of Chemistry at Berkeley, has been a pioneer in the field of high-resolution spectroscopy.

Graham GlemingGraham Gleming

Graham Fleming a previous winner of three national ACS awards, including the Debye in 1998 has been recognized this year by the society with the annual Joel Henry Hildebrand Award (named for the late Berkeley professor) in the Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry of Liquids. Fleming, whose campus office, fortuitously, is located in Hildebrand Hall, has been a leader in the field of ultrafast dynamics in liquids and solvation; he is the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and the Berkeley director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3).

Mary Singleton, whose 22 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory included work with the above-mentioned Nobelist Melvin Calvin, has won the ACS Award for Encouraging Women Into Careers in the Chemical Sciences. A researcher in such areas as tritium-getter materials, oil-shale processing, and growth of nonlinear optical crystals for the LLNL laser project, Singleton retired in 1996. Two years later she joined five other women in a lawsuit to force the lab to remedy gender discrimination in salaries and promotions.

Lest anyone think that distinction is reserved only for Berkeley scientists, Tom Devlin, director of the UC Berkeley Career Center, has been elected to a three-year term as president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a nationwide association of college career-services professionals and a leading source of information on the employment of college grads.

Devlin, who came to Berkeley in 1997 after 18 years as executive director of university career services at Cornell, has served in a number of leadership roles in the field, and is a co-creator of the Career Services Institute, the only professional-development conference designed solely for university career-services staff members.

And Robert Alter, Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, has been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes' Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, which honors authors with "substantial connections to the American West whose contributions to American letters deserve special recognition." Alter, who has taught at Berkeley since 1967, has written extensively on the Bible, literary modernism, and contemporary Hebrew literature. Among his widely hailed works are Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), and Modern Writing and the Authority of Scripture (2000).