IMG_0453Blake Erickson has been named one of our Undergraduates of the Quarter for Winter term 2016.  He grew up in Fairview, Oregon where he attended Reynolds High School which has one of the largest student bodies in the state of Oregon.

Blake said he didn’t even consider an out-of-state school because it would have been too costly, but was lucky to have such a great research university here in the state of Oregon.  Upon arriving at OSU, Blake cycled through Biology and then Biochemistry/Biophysics before deciding on Chemistry as his major. Blake commented how much he enjoyed the organic chemistry sequence with Drs. Chris Beaudry, Kevin Gable and Dwight Weller, but it was the experimental labs with Drs. Christine Pastorek and Emile Firpo that really sealed his decision to be a Chem major. Blake has shown tremendous breadth in chemical interest.  His favorite course so far was the second term of Physical Chemistry with Dr. Chong Fang where they studied Quantum Chemistry. He liked it so much he took it twice, once as a student and once as an undergraduate teaching assistant. He is currently doing undergraduate research with Dr. Joe Nibler exploring the vibrational/rotational structure of perdeutero-spiropentane. They have just submitted earlier this year their first paper specifically on the ground vib/rot structure of the molecule and are currently working on analysis of some more of the upper states.

Graduate School is definitely in Blake’s future, as he’s already been accepted to UC Berkeley’s Chemistry graduate program.  He’s leaning toward academia upon getting his PhD because he loves research, but also has enjoyed teaching others about chemistry, so it will be a good balance for him.

In his spare time at OSU, Blake was also a member of the OSU Marching Band where he got to perform at a variety of sports events.

Students like Blake are the reason the Chemistry Department is so successful in educating future scientists.  Congratulations, Blake!


Undergraduate of the Quarter - Spring 2014
Undergraduate of the Quarter – Spring 2014

Chris Heron has been selected as one of our Undergrads of the Quarter for Spring 2014.  Chris was born in Corvallis, OR.  Prior to coming to OSU, Chris was in the United States Army – serving 3 separate tours in Iraq and was stationed in both Georgia and Colorado – finishing at the rank of Staff Sergeant.  After 7 years in the military, Chris decided to return back to school and enrolled at Columbia Gorge Community College in Hood River for one year.  He then came to Oregon State University as a biology major.  His time as a life sciences major was short lived – once he took Professor Margie Haak’s CH 220 course he was hooked on chemistry. He commented that Margie was an excellent presenter and she stimulated him to think about everything.  Chris also had a wonderful lab course experience in CH 361/362 which he describes as “just fabulous.” He particularly commented that Professor Emile Firpo was “fun and had great energy” and that “you learned a ton” from him.  The labs were key for Chris as it helped the lecture classes really make sense – they made him feel like “now I really get it!”  The P Chem series was really hard, but both Professors Glenn Evans and Wei Kong were great.  He loved Professor Kevin Gable’s dry sense of humor in O Chem.  He has been doing research in Professor David Ji’s lab recently.  Chris describes the research environment as “very inviting and simulating… Professor Ji has been very open with his lab.”  His time at OSU has been supported through the US GI Bill from his military service.  Outside of class, Chris enjoys racing bicycles with the OSU team on campus. This year, he has starting flying with the OSU Flying Club. He hopes to earn his pilot license prior to graduation and become a crop duster.  The FAA now wants crop dusters to have a chemistry background and that job will allow him to get enough hours to achieve his long term goal of being a pilot for a major airline.

Chris comments that OSU has a fabulous chemistry (and science) program and all the faculty are great.  We are honored to have amazing students like Chris as part of our program and we are grateful for his service to our country.  We congratulate Chris on all his achievements to date and we hope he continues to have a wonderful experience at OSU!

Originally printed January 11, 2014 1:00 pm  in the Corvallis Gazette-Times
By JAMES DAY, Corvallis Gazette-Times (reprinted with permission)
Kevin Gable on his last day as Faculty Senate President (Photo by Andy Cripe - Corvallis Gazette Times)
Kevin Gable on his last day as Faculty Senate President (Photo by Andy Cripe – Corvallis Gazette Times)

Kevin Gable has been a chemistry professor at Oregon State University since 1988.

He was chairman of the Chemistry Department from 2006-11, and he just finished a year as president of the OSU Faculty Senate.

But he doesn’t really count himself a political animal.

“The only thing that disqualifies you is wanting to do the job,” Gable said of how he wound up president.

“I never actually ran for it. When you get to full professor you feel a certain measure of responsibility to the institution.”

And being a chemist, Gable likes having a role in mixing things up.

“It’s all about shared governance. There is a tradition in higher ed and at OSU that the faculty demands a voice in how it’s done.”

Then Gable ticks off the pieces of the OSU puzzle in which the Senate wields significant influence: curriculum, academic regulations, the criteria for promotions and tenure.

Gable also noted the Senate’s role in the establishment of OSU’s new Board of Trustees.

“I’m extremely happy with the process we went through. It was a showcase of shared governance. The Senate specifically and the faculty broadly participated in the decision-making process. And that’s where our interest lies.”

Gable notes that in an institution as diverse as the OSU faculty, with more than 3,500 people, “there is a broad spectrum of opinion” then adds an old college joke: “If there are three faculty involved there may very well be four opinions in the room.”

There was a wide range of opinions in the room Dec. 12 when the Senate voted to approve a resolution asking the university foundation to divest from companies that are involved in fossil fuels.

At times the debate resembled a national political convention as representatives of the various colleges expressed their views.

In the end the resolution passed narrowly.

Gable’s conclusion: “It’s within the realm of the faculty to make a statement.”

When he is not teaching or working on Senate business Gable say he likes to cook. Which made a reporter curious about the relationship between the science of chemistry and how his expertise works on the stove.

“There are pieces of cooking that are purely art. But as an organic chemist I have an understanding of some of the processes when you cook. An organic chemist can follow a recipe. We do that in the lab all the time. Also, you understand why in a recipe you add things in a particular order.

“The goal is to have a good meal and a decent glass of wine to go with it and feel good at the end of the night.”


Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or

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