Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jeff, Chemistry Historian

This special entry, #42 (secret to life, the Universe, and everything, coincidence?) in the #ChemCoach blog carnival, comes from a personal hero of mine. Please put your hands together for...
My favorite "profile" of the series:
John D. Roberts, engaged in debate
Source: ACS Publications | Jeff Seeman

...Dr. Jeff Seeman!

Jeff currently works as a Visiting Senior Research Scholar at the University of Richmond. Perhaps you know him from his long career as a chemist at Phillip Morris. Or perhaps from his interviews of famous organic chemists for the ORGN Centennial Symposium. But I know Dr. Seeman best as the editor of the ACS autobiographical series Profiles, Pathways, and Dreams.

Ever read it? Through PPD, Jeff compiled and edited autobiographies from eminent chemists over ~20 years. Bill Johnson. Carl Djerassi. Arthur Birch. Ernest Eliel. Andrew Streitweiser. Bruce Merrifield. Koji Nakanishi. The list goes on and on.

In addition to recounting their scientific careers, the scientists' charge involved telling stories about how they became chemists - a perfect fit for this carnival!

On a more personal note, I had found a treasure trove of these books, sitting in a gleaming blue row in a corner of our science library, during the darkest days of grad school. Paging through, I developed a kind of confidence, a realization that many of these famous folks had once been in my shoes. If they could do it, so could I. If you haven't read the books, I'd highly recommend them to any prospective young chemist.

Ever humble and pragmatic, Jeff has decided that I can best tell his story through his work (lightly edited):

Dr. Jeff Seeman
Credit: ACS local section
"...You ask about me.  And I would much prefer to tell you latest big project.  I also believe your followers will find a blog about this far more useful and interesting! [snip]

The Chemical Record is a Wiley-VCH journal published with the Chemical Society of Japan.  It has a rather substantial impact factor of ca. 5.

[snip] A more complete description of the project and a rich discussion of autograph books can be found in an essay* that I've written along with the first segment of this project:  It is open-access, as is the entire project for at least three years.

The actual issue in TCR.

As for me, this project follows my heart in encouraging our chemistry community to go beyond great science and think about science as a human endeavor and to cherish our rich participation in this wonderful community of ours. (emphasis mine)

I hope that my "submission" to you more than meets your anticipations."

(SAO here) - Thanks again, Jeff. It really made my day.

*Here's an introductory essay Jeff wrote for the Nozoe Autograph Books Project. I hear through the grapevine that Ash will soon write about them on Curious Wavefunction, so keep an eye out!

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