A Springtime Celebration

Thanks to the generosity of two longstanding and thoughtful supporters, the Chemistry Department hosted a springtime celebration on May 18, 2014. Over 60 alumni, friends, and faculty gathered in the Winter Garden of MIT’s Media Laboratory. Guests enjoyed not only spectacular views of the Charles River and Back Bay, but also conversation and presentations focused on the department’s educational and research accomplishments, as well as its future plans, goals, and special projects.

Department Head Sylvia Ceyer began the evening with opening remarks and a warm welcome before turning it over to John Essigmann, William R. (1956) and Betsy Leitch Professor of Chemistry and Biological Engineering, who shared exciting news about a subject central to the department’s education mission and reputation. Essigmann’s presentation, entitled “Our Chemistry Labs Don’t Stink Anymore,” outlined the reasons why we can expect an improvement to the atmosphere in which our undergraduates study chemistry, due to the exciting and long overdue relocation of our undergraduate laboratories to the top floor of MIT’s new state-of–the-art nanotechnology building. This major capital project is a focal point for MIT’s planned campaign, and the department hopes to take full advantage of the project’s high internal and external profile.

A major feature of the new facility is the fact that the design of the new laboratories is inspired by URIECA, the department’s innovative undergraduate curriculum. This topic was the focus of Assistant Professor Brad Pentelute’s presentation, “Flowing into URIECA Moments at MIT.”

To conclude the evening’s presentations, Susan Solomon, Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science, a well-known scientist whose research takes place at the intersection of basic science and public policy, gave her talk “The World’s Chemistry in Our Hands.”