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Linfield professor honored by USC

Jim Diamond, professor of chemistryAt USC Jim Diamond is known as an excellent mentor to students and ambassador for Linfield College.

Diamond, professor of chemistry at Linfield, recently received a 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Southern California Department of Chemistry for his work in recommending and guiding outstanding Linfield chemistry students into the graduate program at USC.

Diamond, at Linfield since 1991, was a postdoctoral research associate in quantum chemistry at USC from 1979-84.

Curt Wittig, Paul A. Miller Professor of Letters, Arts and Sciences at USC, nominated Diamond for the award. He spoke of the remarkable strengths demonstrated by Linfield’s chemistry graduates who have attended USC. Linfield students, he noted, have made their mark. Since the Michael J. Dulligan Memorial Award for outstanding graduate research in physical chemistry was established in 2003, four Linfield students have received the award: Lee Chiat Ch’ng ’07, Cody Schlenker ’04, Chris Rivera ’04 and Amy (Germaine) Moskum ’98. Zhu Jinsong ’93 also studied chemistry at USC, but received his degree before the award was established.

Wittig said Diamond is the kind of faculty advisor he likes to see, taking the whole student into account. “Glorious recommendations where the student walks on water don’t do anyone any good,” Wittig said. “Jim is very clear writing recommendations that help us understand a student, and also help us assist the student when they arrive.”

Diamond said he was overwhelmed with the award and the opportunity to speak in front of some 250 distinguished colleagues and students at the awards ceremony in April.

“It’s a real tribute to the quality of our faculty who mentor them in undergraduate research,” Diamond said, pointing to chemistry colleagues Bob Wolcott, Tom Reinert, Elizabeth J.O. Atkinson and Brian Gilbert.

Because of experience at USC under the Professor Emeritus Jerry Segal, and his knowledge and high regard for the faculty, Diamond understands the students who are most likely to be successful in the program. And those students have a high regard for Diamond.

Schlenker, now a research associate of chemistry at the University of Washington, said that because of Diamond’s mentorship and training, he was able to hit the ground running at USC.

“It was not until I was in graduate school that I fully appreciated that I had left the Linfield chemistry department with a world-class education and a detailed understanding of extremely intricate subject matter that would be the cornerstone for the next 10 years of my professional development,” he said. “This allowed me to excel in my pursuit of new concepts and new materials for advanced solar energy conversion devices during my Ph.D. work.”

Ch’ng, who is completing her degree at USC, said she learned to work both independently and as a team in her physical chemistry classes at Linfield.

“It is very important to train ourselves to be an independent researcher in graduate school and Jim’s mentoring helped me to be better prepared,” she said. “In addition, the physical chemistry class at Linfield was designed in such a way that the students had to work in a team. Working in a team and collaboration are very important in graduate school.”