Nearly 17 years after formal “retirement”, I still can't keep away from the lab. But my recent efforts to clear out files and organize what is left suggest that it might not be long before I will sleep in after 7 a.m.! Most of the real work in the lab is currently carried out by two very efficient undergraduates, Bryan Dunyak and Peter Jacobson. Both will be graduating this year and going on to graduate school. The role of undergraduates in my research is indicated by the fact that the most recent manuscript, “Interaction of Alkali Metals with Nanoporous Silica” has seven undergraduate co-authors.
Alkali metals still provide the "backbone" for our current efforts. The company, SiGNa Chemistry Inc. is now set to move from pilot plant to industrial scale production of alkali metals in silica and sodium silicide. The latter serves as a hydrogen source for fuel cells and was the subject of a nice write up in the December 15 issue of the New York Times. It is a slow process to move from "promising technology" to "profit", but our CEO, Michael Lefenfeld, is pushing hard to accomplish it. Meanwhile, the company provides us with enough money to continue research. We are still trying to produce something useful from the reduction of chlorofluorocarbons (Freons) and to use encapsulated lithium as a source of alkyl-lithium materials.
I still keep marginally involved in scientific organizations with an annual trip to the National Academy of Sciences and occasional talks. I presented one at the San Francisco ACS meeting and will give an invited talk at a symposium in Japan in March. My involvement in departmental affairs is minimal and I seldom get out of the basement!
Angie and I continue to be blessed with good health and we still take regular walks and work out routinely. My Melanoma is in remission and under control with regular checkups. We still like to take vacations (although getting there is less fun). In 2010 we spent a week in January with daughter Roberta and husband Hugh in Palm Springs California, then one week in February with son Tom and wife Sandra at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Angie and I spent two weeks in Jamaica in February, playing golf and enjoying the beach. March and April brought us to the ACS meeting in San Francisco and the Academy Meeting in Washington, DC. Then in July we spent a week with Brenda and two of her children plus Roberta and Hugh in Vail Colorado. Summer ended with Tom and a friend on a fly-in fishing trip in Canada where Tom caught a Resort record Northern Pike (17 lbs, 43 inches).
Our extended family continues to grow and spread out. It is hard to believe that our youngest, Brenda, is a grandmother! Her oldest daughter Nicoletta gave birth this year to our first great-granddaughter. Roberta's two sons, Eric and Kevin, are now the fathers of three and two sons respectively so we enjoy the blessings of six great-grandchildren. The families are spread out from North Carolina to Texas to Colorado, giving us even more opportunities to travel.
Angie and I made another substantial (for us) contribution to the Chemistry Endowment Fund that we hope will grow enough to fund a Dye-Professorship in the future. The financial picture at MSU looks bleak and the Department has felt the effects. We no longer have an Electronics Shop and are down to one Glassblower and one Machinist. These problems are due to substantial cuts in State funding. Fortunately, alumni support continues to build and MSU continues to grow in global out-reach and high quality teaching and research.