Alumni News & Achievements

Latest Alumni Achievements

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Alumni in the News

Alumni Letters

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Memories of the 1940s, from Elliot Schubert

In the fall of 1946, my wife Eileen and I moved to Madison, where I enrolled in the organic Chemistry Department of the University Graduate School. I selected Dr. William Johnson to be my major professor. He assigned me a problem that I would need to solve in order to obtain a Ph.D. degree. As a World War II veteran, I received $90 a month, under the G.I. Bill. Eileen got a job in the office of the Forest Products Laboratory and was paid $30 a week. We lived in a trailer, for which we paid $25 a month. The trailer had no running water, so we had to walk 50 feed to the bath house, where there were showers, toilets, and running water. The trailer was equipped with an ice box, a two burner hot plate, and an oil burning stove. We did not mind these inconveniences, as we were deeply in love, having been married a year earlier. In February of 1949, our son Kenny was born. In June of that year, I had solved my research problem, so I received my Ph.D. degree. Those days are now long gone, but the good memories will forever linger on.

Memories of the 1960s, from Daniel Bloch

In 1960, I transferred to UW as a junior planning to major in chemical engineering. Part way through my first semester I discovered chemical engineering was not my thing, though I still wanted to major in chemistry. It was also possible I would not earn a C average which meant I could not transfer between Colleges. This was a time when some professors told entering freshman, look at the person on each side of you because only one of you will graduate. With a great amount of courage that semester I knocked on the door of professor C. Harvey Sorum, Chemistry Department head and world-renowned scientist. As one of about 20,000 students I was not too optimistic on the outcome. Upon hearing my humble plea (as I remember it) Professor Sorum said, “if you really want to major in chemistry, I will see that you will be able to transfer”. I did get better than a C average so transferring was not an issue but Professor Sorem’s encouragement reduced a lot of stress and ultimately I graduated with a degree in chemistry. Many years later, I gave a copy of my prized chemistry book, authored by Sorum, to his grandson and also found out Sorum was my mother-in-law’s quiz instructor and he gave my wife ice skating lessons. Small world.

Honoring Bob West, a letter from Linda Smith (Whatley) Wilson

My name is Linda Smith (Whatley) Wilson. I was a graduate student in chemistry, studying under Robert C. West from 1957-1962, and received the Ph.D. in February, 1962. I am always grateful for the issues of Badger Chemist that I receive periodically. In the most recent issue, on page 16, is an article by Anthony Millevolte & Matthias Driess about Robert C. West, on his 90th birthday. The reference in the article is a wonderful tribute to Bob West. I was extraordinarily lucky to be accepted as one of his Ph.D. group during my graduate work from 1957-1962. Having Bob as my major professor was a wonderful experience. While Bob sustained his office for teaching and research as an active faculty member at UW-Madison, he and his staff maintained connections with all of his graduate students and postdocs for many years. I want to express again my deep appreciation for all that his support and confidence has enabled me to do professionally and personally.

Alumni Updates

To share professional updates and let your fellow alumni know where you are now, complete the form here or email us at connect@chem.wisc.edu.

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Class of 1958

  • Alan D. Lourie (MS 1958)
    • 2016 – honored with the Excellence Award of the American Intellectual Property Law Association in Washington in October 2016. The citation reads “in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service to the intellectual property community, which is representative of his distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and unwavering commitment to justice.” He continues to serve as an active judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Class of 1964

Class of 1966

  • Robert Bergman (1966 Ph.D.)
    • 2017 – won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Chemistry for his work on the activation of carbon-hydrogen bonds of hydrocarbons by soluble transition-metal complexes.

Class of 1970

  • Kenneth T. Gillen (1970 Ph.D., Noggle)

Class of 1974

Class of 1975

  • John H. Kiekhaefer (B.S. 1975, M.S. 1996)
    John H. Kiekhaefer
    John H. Kiekhaefer
    • 2016 – Retired in 2016 after career as Chemist/R&D Manager with Brady Corp. (Milwaukee) & Perfect Plastic Printing (St. Charles,IL)
    • Inventor on 10 US Patents involving plastics, printing, graphics, processing
    • 1996 – MS Engineering Management – Milwaukee School of Engineering

Class of 1976

  • Lee H. Latimer (Ph.D. 1976)
    • head of chemistry at NeurOp Inc.
    • 2016 – started three-year term as director-at-large of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society

Class of 1977

  • Michael St John (BS 1968)
    • 1977 – named a University of Chicago Post-Doctoral Fellow

Class of 1978

  • Patrick Carrick (BS 1978)
    • 1974-1978 – conducted undergraduate research in Department of Chemistry and employed by Space Physics Department
    • 1983 – received Ph.D. from Rice University (Curl) in 1983
    • 1980’s – Before federal service, served as assistant professor of physics and chemistry at Mississippi State University.
    • 2019 – “After 31 years, I have retired from federal government service.  My final position was Chief Scientist, Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.  Prior to that, I was the Director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA).  I began my federal career as a research scientist at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, where I ultimately became Chief of the Propellants Branch.  I went on to be the Senior Executive Service (SES) Director of the Physics and Electronics Directorate, and ultimately acting Director, of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).”

Class of 1979

Class of 1985

  • James M. Balkovec (Ph.D. 1985)
  • Joann “Jo” Eisenhart (Ph.D. 1985)
  • Ann Pease (BS 1985)
    • Chambers & Partners USA, one of America’s Leading Business Lawyers
    • Listed in U.S. Legal 500
    • Listed in U.S. News & World Report, one of Best Lawyers in America
    • San Francisco Business Times, Best Lawyer

Class of 1989

Class of 1992

Class of 1993

  • Yan Wang (Ph.D. 1993 Chemistry, MBA 1991)

Class of 2000

Class of 2004

Chris Ciolli
Chris Ciolli
  • Chris Ciolli (Ph.D. 2004, Organic Chemistry, Belshaw)
    • 2017 – granted three US patents for development of lubricant additive components as
      research chemist
    • 2016 – promoted to Technical Services Manager in Blend Test Services for The
      Lubrizol Corporation in Wickliffe, Ohio, a specialty chemical company delivering valuable
      solutions to customers and their end-users in the global transportation,
      industrial, and consumer markets

Class of 2006

Class of 2007

  • Carter W. Abney, Ph. D. (BS 2007 chemistry and theoretical mathematics, performed research in the Landis group)
    • 2009 – earned an M.S. from the University of North Carolina
    • 2015 – earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago
    • 2019 – selected for Early Career Fellow for the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, to be awarded at an honorary symposium at the spring ACS National Meeting. The award is in recognition of research impacting both applied chemistry and chemical engineering, performed while as an Eugene P. Wigner Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Class of 2009

Class of 2013

For more University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni news, visit the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Alumni Notes.