Alumni in the news

September 2, 2019

It is "back to school" for UC Berkeley. Incoming freshman are looking for classrooms, students are getting classes added and dropped, and graduate students are heaving a sigh as the relaxed atmosphere of summer turns into the busy hallways of fall. In the meantime, our amazing alumni are out in the world making huge impacts.

What is most notable about the array of stories we see is the variety of disciplines and research our alumni are involved in. From changing our fundamental understanding of how DNA works, to discovering new elements on the periodic table, and the exploration of the chemistry in paint restoration, here are some fascinating recent articles we've spotted. 

What Nobel Laureate, Frances Arnold, Wants Future STEM Leaders to Know

Frances Arnold


"If we're curious about our environment and want to know more about it, we'll also be curious about people and about how society works. If we use facts as the basis for making our decisions of how to interact in that world, we have a hope of making it better for the next generation.” Frances Arnold (Ph.D. '85, Chem)

What are the keys to EV success?

Electric vehicle

Image source: General Motors

“I did my training and graduate school in electrochemistry. I went to UC Berkeley because they had a strong photovoltaic program—a strong clean energy emphasis in their college of chemistry,” Mark Verbrugge (Ph.D. '86, ChemE)

Making New Elements Doesn’t Pay. Just Ask This Berkeley Scientist

Jacklyn Gates

Photo: Bloomberg Businessweek

 “Pretty much the only thing we know about these elements is how to produce them, and how long they live, and how they decay, What we don’t know is everything else.” Jacklyn Gates (Ph.D. '08, Chem)

The Woman Who Got Bromine Out of Kids’ Pajamas Fears It’s Coming Back

Arlene Blum

Photo: California Museum

“This is corroborated in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Spain, where flame-retardant-free insulation has been widely used without incident for as long as 18 years.” Arlene Blum (Ph.D. '72, Chem)

ExxonMobil and Mosaic Materials explore new carbon capture technology

MOF sponge

image: ExxonMobile

“Through this agreement with ExxonMobil, we look to accelerate the pace of our development and demonstrate the business and environmental benefits that our technology can offer.” Thomas McDonald (Ph.D. '15, Chem)

Alumna General (Ret.) Ellen Pawlikowski named Judge Widney Professor at USC

Ellen Pawlikowski

Photo: USC

“General Pawlikowski (Ph.D. '81, ChemE) is an extraordinary person who has dedicated her life to serving her country.  Her contributions in science and engineering are equally impressive.” USC President Carol L. Folt

Alum explores the costs of doing business in space


Jeff Greenblatt (Ph.D. '99, Chem) and Alfred Anzaldúa at space business opportunities. Humanity’s outer space capability has grown remarkably since 1957 when Sputnik was launched. Since then, we have witnessed humans land on the Moon, 135 flights of the Space Shuttle, construction of the International Space Station (ISS), and the launch of more than 8,100 space objects.

Aged Paint Explored in Microscopic Detail To Help Preservation Efforts

Paint restoration before and after example


"The formation of metal soaps in artwork composed with oil paints can cause “art acne” ... – which poses a pressing challenge for art conservation around the globe. An estimated 70% of oil paintings might already have or will have these metal-soap problems.” Lead author Xiao Ma, Charles E. Culpeper Fellow at the National Gallery of Art. Dilworth Parkinson (Ph.D. '06, Chem) conducted a range of studies that included 3D X-ray imaging of a paint sample at the Advanced Light Source at the Lawarence Berkeley Lab for this study.