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UC Riverside’s Chemistry Graduate Program Celebrates Half a Century


UC Riverside’s Chemistry Graduate Program Celebrates Half a Century

Alumni and emeriti faculty to visit campus for a three-day celebration marking the department’s achievements

(June 11, 2010)

Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.  (Additonal photo below.)Enlarge

Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (Additonal photo below.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Riverside is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its graduate program this month by recognizing many of the accomplishments of its alumni as well as past and current faculty. Chemistry was UC Riverside’s first graduate program.

Many of the department’s graduate and undergraduate alumni, current students, and past and current faculty will gather on campus next week to share their UC Riverside experiences and celebrate the department’s significant achievements.

Among these achievements are an a Nobel Prize in chemistry won by an alumnus; and numerous awards received by faculty, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Special Creativity Award; a Bomen-Michelson Award; recognition as a European Inventor of the Year; a Tolman Award; a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award; a DuPont Young Professor Grant; recognition as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society; recognition as a Cottrell Scholar; a Sir Ronald Nyholm Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry; and NSF CAREER Awards. (Some of these awards have been received by multiple faculty members.)

The “Chem50th” celebrations will take place over three days, starting with a welcome reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, in Room 231, the Chemical Sciences Building. Friday, June 18 will feature a day-long (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) symposium in Room 302, the Highlander Union Building (formerly the Commons), with an evening banquet at 6:30 p.m. in the Music Room/Glenwood Tavern, the Mission Inn, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, Calif.. Visits, tours, and recreational activities for the Chem50th participants will take place on Saturday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to noon.

For a complete schedule of events, click here.

The two keynote speeches will be:

  • “I Forgot to Tell Him the Task Was Impossible” at 9:15 a.m., June 18, given by alumnus Charles Gay (B.S., ’68; Ph.D., ’79), president of Applied Solar and chairman of the Applied Solar Council at Applied Materials, Inc.

  • “Chemistry, Biology, Biotechnology, and Epigenetics” at 1:30 p.m., June 18, given by alumnus Arthur Riggs (B.S. ‘61) of the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope.


During the banquet on June 18, Eric Chronister, the chair of the Department of Chemistry, will briefly highlight the accomplishments, growth and major milestones of the Chemistry Graduate Program over the last 50 years. Jodi Holt, the chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, will present an after-dinner talk, titled “Avatar: Bridging Science and the Public,” in which she will discuss her recent experiences bringing botany to the public’s imagination through her advisory role in James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar.

The Department of Chemistry is UCR’s first Ph.D.-granting department. Currently it has 26 faculty members, including six who hold the title of Distinguished Professor. It also has approximately 115 Ph.D. graduate students, the largest in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. The department brings to UCR nearly $10 million in extramural research funding.

All Chem50th participants must register to attend the celebrations. More information, including the cost of attendance, can be found here.
Photo, taken at Chem50th, shows five academic generations - all with a UCR connection. From left to right: Donald T. Sawyer, Richard Kula, Dallas Rabenstein, Cynthia K. Larive, and Stacie L. Eldridge. Sawyer was an early UCR Chemistry faculty member and was chair of Chemistry and dean of the Division of Physical Sciences. He was the Ph.D. mentor of UCR B.S. and Ph.D. alum Kula. After receiving his Ph.D., Kula was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin where he was the Ph.D. mentor of Rabenstein. After teaching at the University of Alberta for many years, Rabenstein joined the UCR faculty in 1985 just as Sawyer departed to be dean at Texas A&M. Rabenstein has served as Chemistry chair, interim dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, dean of the Graduate Division and is now UCR's executive vice-chancellor.  Rabenstein served as Larive’s Ph.D mentor from 1988-1992. After receiving her Ph.D. Larive was on the faculty of the University of Kansas and then returned to UCR as a Chemistry faculty member in 2005. Eldrige (UCR Ph.D. 2009) was the first Ph.D. Larive produced at UCR. Eldrige is now an assistant professor of chemistry at Riverside Community College.  Photo courtesy of C. Larive.Enlarge

Photo, taken at Chem50th, shows five academic generations - all with a UCR connection. From left to right: Donald T. Sawyer, Richard Kula, Dallas Rabenstein, Cynthia K. Larive, and Stacie L. Eldridge. Sawyer was an early UCR Chemistry faculty member and was chair of Chemistry and dean of the Division of Physical Sciences. He was the Ph.D. mentor of UCR B.S. and Ph.D. alum Kula. After receiving his Ph.D., Kula was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin where he was the Ph.D. mentor of Rabenstein. After teaching at the University of Alberta for many years, Rabenstein joined the UCR faculty in 1985 just as Sawyer departed to be dean at Texas A&M. Rabenstein has served as Chemistry chair, interim dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, dean of the Graduate Division and is now UCR's executive vice-chancellor. Rabenstein served as Larive’s Ph.D mentor from 1988-1992. After receiving her Ph.D. Larive was on the faculty of the University of Kansas and then returned to UCR as a Chemistry faculty member in 2005. Eldrige (UCR Ph.D. 2009) was the first Ph.D. Larive produced at UCR. Eldrige is now an assistant professor of chemistry at Riverside Community College. Photo courtesy of C. Larive.

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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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