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Ratte Winner has the Right Chemistry

February 05, 2009

Frances Delaney B.A. ‘08 believes there is an advantage to studying science at a small college. By the time she won the 2008 Rena J. Ratte Award, the undergraduate college’s highest academic honor, she had devoted countless hours to the study of chemistry and spent more than a year and a half in laboratories, engaging in research.

“I think had I gone to a larger school, like Berkeley, I may not have studied chemistry,” says the San Francisco native. “In that setting, the professors don’t have time to talk to their students, and maybe one in 100 students gets to do research at the undergraduate level. At Lewis & Clark, the undergraduates arethe lab; there’s no one else but the professor, and, frequently, the students are in charge of their day-to-day assignments, tasks, and experiments.”

Delaney also pursued coursework in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. She initially toyed with majoring in psychology, a discipline she considers akin to chemistry. “Both subjects have puzzle-like qualities to them, but I think chemistry has a few more,” says Delaney. “That’s what I really like about the subject.”

Outside the classroom, Delaney tutored organic chemistry students, played violin in the orchestra, and served on the Student Academic Affairs Board. She graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors and plans to pursue graduate work in chemistry or law.

Rena Ratte was a Lewis & Clark philosophy instructor and professor during the 1960s. Following her unexpected death in 1970, colleagues, students, and friends established the award to honor Ratte’s memory.

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