NMR-equipment boosts science research here
The dedication on March 23 of a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer in Cheray 213 was cause for celebration among Saint Michael’s College science faculty, administrators, and the family of a man whose major gift made this important technology available to student and faculty researchers.
Francis Harrison ’52, who died in November 2016, remembered Saint Michael’s in his estate and expressed a particular interest in supporting science education. His gift covered a significant portion of the nearly $300,000 cost of the new NMR Spectrometer.
Harrison family members — daughters Patricia Brandt, Amy Klimek, Katherine Pelson and Margaret Santacroce, and sister Claire Cocklin — attended the dedication celebration and demonstration, as did President John J. Neuhauser, Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino, Professors Shane Lamos and Bret Findley of the chemistry faculty, and other guests.
The Friday morning ceremony included a welcome from Talentino and Neuhauser and a tour of the Science Complex. Both Neuhauser and Talentino offered remarks about the importance of NMR and its influence on research. Findley greeted the gathered and spoke briefly, and Lamos oversaw the demonstration of the new equipment.
In modern organic chemistry practice, science faculty and administrators at the ceremony explained to guests, that NMR spectroscopy is the definitive method to identify molecular organic compounds. Similarly, biochemists use NMR to identify proteins and other complex molecules. Besides identification, NMR spectroscopy provides detailed information about the structure, dynamics, reaction state, and chemical environment of molecules.
“The College is indebted to Frank Harrison and his family for the state of the art contribution to the Chemistry Department,” said President Neuhauser. “Such equipment is fundamental to science education at a liberal arts college. Without this our students would simply not be prepared for the next stage of their lives as professionals or graduate students. The ‘Harrison’ NMR facility gives our students access at the beginning of their careers, access that will not likely be duplicated even in graduate school. Moreover, the faculty have made this equipment available to students far beyond chemistry majors. Thank you Frank Harrison; you would be very proud of what you have created.”
Talentino echoed the president’s remarks, saying the acquisition of the NMR “provides an opportunity for our students and faculty to have hands-on experience with state of the art equipment that is integral to the work of professional chemists. This means that our students will be well-prepared for their graduate programs as well as careers, as they will have had a great deal of direct experience with an NMR, more than is typical for an undergraduate student.”
“Saint Michael’s College is now one of only three academic institutions in Vermont that has this important piece of equipment (UVM and Middlebury are the others),” she said. “This contribution from the Harrison family will have a significant impact for decades on science education at Saint Michael’s.”
Lunch followed in the Pomerleau Alumni Center, including Talentino, Krystyna Davenport Brown (associate VP for Institutional Advancement), Findley, Lamos, other Chemistry faculty members Alayne Schroll, and Jennifer Paone-Vogt and Marque Moffett; Major Gifts Officer Kathie Berard M’96, and students Marissa Berry, a junior biochemistry major, and Samuel Vaal, a junior chemistry major.
In addition to this recent gift, Francis Harrison in 2005 established the Francis E. Harrison ’52 Family Scholarship, an unrestricted scholarship for students who demonstrate financial need. Before his death he had been active in his class reunion activities and the College’s Career Advisory Network. He had lived many years in Stamford, CT, where he raised his family, and later Fairfax, VA and most recently the Villages, FL since 2005. After earning his Saint Michael’s sociology degree he served in the Navy in the Chaplain’s office for two years, and later had a long career in the insurance business. He was very active in Catholic charitable work throughout his life.