Reed College

Fullerenes and Art

More than 500 years ago Leonardo da Vinci built a wooden 60-vertex closed object—a "truncated icosahedron"— and he made a drawing of it for a math textbook. A little over 30 years ago, chemists discovered a molecular, all-carbon cage with exactly this shape. The excitement and appeal of this discovery has sparked interest not only in the fields of chemistry, but also in astronomy, art, and electronic materials.

Prof. Marilyn Olmstead '65 of UC Davis will discuss some of her crystallographic results while portraying how the fullerenes have become an iconic part of our lives.

The talk is the chemistry department's annual Thomas Dunne Lecture and is also part of the chemistry seminars held every week.

Prof.. Olmstead graduated in chemistry at Reed, where Tom Dunne was her senior thesis advisor. She attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry.

"My focus at the time was molecular orbital theory, but I was not thrilled with the slow computers and use of IBM cards for carrying out the computations. My interest in crystallography was sparked by Tom Dunne at Reed, and a grad school thesis committee member, Professor Larry Dahl. I decided to follow that interest a few years after moving to UC Davis with my husband, Alan, in 1969. At first I worked as Lecturer and as a post-doc while I learned crystallography from Professor Håkon Hope. The chemistry department then appointed me as a Specialist, and I directed the departmental crystallography facility until 2003, when I was appointed Full Professor. I became Emeritus in late 2015."

About Tom Dunne:

Tom Dunne grew up in the Mojave Desert before heading across the Sierras to do his undergraduate work at UCLA, where he graduated in 1952.  Tom then moved to the University of Washington to pursue his PhD, spent a few years at IBM in New York and then returned to academics at MIT, doing a postdoctoral fellowship with Al Cotton.  Tom arrived at Reed in the Fall of 1963 as an inorganic chemist and became one of the great contributors to the success of the department over his 30+ years on the faculty. Tom’s interests in chemistry are broad, but his research was rooted in an interest in seeking chemical paths to sustainable solar energy. Following his “retirement” in the mid-1990’s, Tom created the first environmental chemistry course at Reed and taught it for roughly 10 years, paving the way for the arrival of the ES-Chem major. Tom was a popular teacher and mentor throughout his career, and advised over 50 senior theses. His former students have gone on to have spectacular careers in and out of academics and in and out of chemistry.  It is appropriate that we have a lecture series in Tom’s name, since he was so active in introducing Reedies to the chemistry community beyond campus, and likewise for introducing chemists from beyond campus to Reed. We are delighted to have this opportunity to honor an individual who contributed so much to the current success of the Reed chemistry department.


Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 4:15pm to 5:30pm

Biology, 19
3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

Event Type



Faculty & Staff, Students, Alumni, General Public, Prospective Students & Families





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