From the Chair - Autumn 2023

Submitted by Diana Knight on

Dear Friend of Chemistry,

I hope this finds you well. We are at the cusp of a new school year and have enjoyed a beautiful Seattle summer. Looking through this magazine provides me with a moment to pause and reflect on the year that has just passed.

This past year the department went through an academic program review which occurs every ten years. It involves a self-study written by the department and a site visit from a review committee. Our committee was chaired by Cheryl R. Kaiser (Department of Psychology, University of Washington) and included F. Fleming Crim (Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin – Madison), Mo Li (Departments of Electrical Engineering & Physics, University of Washington), and Catherine J. Murphy (Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). The site visit was held on January 30-31, 2023. The self-study was written with input from all stakeholders in the department – faculty of all ranks, students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, staff, and postdoctoral researchers. It provided a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect collectively on our educational, research, and service missions. I am delighted to report that the external committee noted our excellence and they astutely said, “The Department of Chemistry is successful far beyond the university resources available to it, and the department has captured impressive funding that has built excellence in the programs. It is a jewel for the College of Arts and Sciences and University of Washington in both research and teaching. Over the last two decades, the department has made singular advances that have improved its standing nationally.” The committee also noted the serious risk to all aspects of our program posed by our aging buildings – Bagley Hall (built in 1937) and the Chemistry Library Building (built ca. 1957). There are plans underway to renovate and build a new building and I hope to share more information with you about this soon.

The past year has resulted in successes in the classroom and the laboratory for our students, postdocs, staff and faculty. Many congratulations to Daniel Gamelin and his team for their success in securing an additional six years of funding for UW MEM-C, an NSF MRSEC center (see MEM-C: Moonshots & Island Voyages for more about MEM-C). Graduating senior Anna Finch was named the President’s Medalist and Ph.D. student Theresa Gozzo was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award. Assistant Professor Alexandra Velian was recognized by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, and Chemical & Engineering News. Assistant Professor Dianne Xiao became the fourth Packard Fellow currently on our faculty. The annual report of fellowships, awards, and honors is included in this issue.

This year also marks a milestone in how the university conducts its business: in July, the UW launched Workday Finance. After years of preparation, we are learning to work within our new finance infrastructure that replaced a nearly 50-year-old financial accounting system and hundreds of side systems. I am very grateful to our excellent HR and finance teams led ably by Lynsey Tafreshi and Angie Mullen, respectively, for their planning and preparation during these times where it is definitely not business as usual! We have also continued to welcome new staff as our staffing needs evolve, in part due to the financial transformation, and in part due to other areas of growth.

As we begin a new academic year, we look forward to learning, teaching, and discovery in the chemical sciences for the public good. I hope you enjoy reading about our endeavors and achievements from around the department in this year’s edition of the magazine. If you would like to engage with us, please contact me by email.

Best wishes,

Munira Khalil

Munira Khalil
Professor and Chair