Q & A With Chemist Charlie Sharpless

  Who: Charlie Sharpless, associate professor of chemistry At UMW since: 2004 Academic specialties: environmental photochemistry; mentoring students in research projects What is environmental photochemistry? It’s the chemistry that happens when sunlight is absorbed by compounds at the earth’s surface. These reactions happen in air and water, but since I’m a water chemist, I’m interested in what’s going on in lakes, rivers, and coastal marine systems. What my students and I focus on is the way sunlight alters the oxygen chemistry in water and the effect that can have on contaminants. Normally oxygen isn’t very reactive but some of the natural organic matter – the brown stuff in water left over from plant and algae degradation – will transfer energy from the sunlight to the oxygen, and all of a sudden you get new kinds of oxygen chemistry that weren’t there before. Can you give an example? One of the projects we’re working on is how photochemistry affects the … [Read more...]

Study Abroad Sparked Love

On a blue-sky August morning, Flora Chung Takoshima and Akiyuki Takoshima ’05 maneuvered two little girls and a paraphernalia-laden stroller along Campus Walk. Yua, 11 months old, gurgled and grinned in her parents’ arms. Four-year-old Yuki romped on the green grass and took in every sight – especially the Palmieri Plaza fountain. The Takoshimas had traveled from their home in Kariya, Aichi, Japan, to visit friends and see the campus where Flora and Akiyuki met a decade earlier. Back home, Flora is a full-time mom and Aki a software engineer for an automotive company. On campus, the family posed for portraits by Heather Spring Sieck ’96 and J.P. Sieck ’95, who own Sieck Photography in Fredericksburg. The Takoshimas’ friend Steve Mauro ’04, who roomed with Aki a decade ago, shot video. Aki, a native of Sapporo, Japan, earned a degree from the Chitose Institute of Science and Technology but decided to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in the United States. He chose Mary … [Read more...]