Mea Culpa, And A Lab With A View

View of Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier and Pacific Ocean from the third floor of Sverdrup Hall, November 15, 2010 (Courtesy Jeffrey Bada and Mario Aguilera)

You're admiring the view from the third floor of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Sverdrup Hall. "Why am I being taunted with this lovely scene when it is 30 degrees outside where I live?" you might ask. It's because in recent weeks I've learned that chemists are quick to take pride in their labs' prime locations- especially when said prime location is near the beach. And it was all because of a mix-up on my part. In my October 25 cover story on a new set of graduate program rankings (and I use the term "rankings" loosely), I included a statistic about UC Santa Barbara- writing that it's located one mile from the beach. I did this not because UCSB is necessarily closest to the beach, but because Jes Sherman (of CBC fame and a current grad student at UCSB) mentioned the beach in an e-mail interview. Here's the relevant piece of my story:
Jessica Sherman, a chemistry graduate student in Thuc-Quyen Nguyen's group at UC Santa Barbara, chose her school for its intense focus on organic materials research. "I don't care about rankings," she says. "I do care about having a supportive adviser who publishes a lot of good work." Sherman, who founded the popular chemistry blog "Carbon-Based Curiosities," adds that rankings can't pick up on the intangibles she loves about her department, such as its collaborative nature and its sunny locale, just steps from the beach. "If I had cared about rankings, I might have gone elsewhere, and I don't think I'd be as happy as I am here."
Unfortunately, the beach statistic was misleading, because a few folks wrote in to tell us their institution is closer to the beach, and a former UCSB postdoc wrote in to tell me that my estimate (lovingly determined with Google Maps) was off anyway. Sorry everyone! One of the letter-writers, Jeff Bada of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, even sent us a picture- and that's what prompted my post. Bada writes, "You have to admit I am really close to the beach and you can not beat the view from my office (mine actually looks south not north as in the picture and is even better)!" Yup, I'm jealous. If you think your view beats Bada's, send me a photo - c_drahl(at)acs(dot)org, or newscripts(at)acs(dot)org.

Author: Carmen Drahl

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4 Comments

  1. Yeah, the chem building isn’t quite that close to the beach–maybe a 10-15 minute walk. But there are also chemistry labs in Elings Hall (CNSI), which is much, much closer…

  2. You know, if it was measured by distance to nude beach, SIO would probably win, too.

  3. CJ, I don’t want to know why you know that. 😛

  4. Black’s is famous for that (and by famous, I mean to Southern Californians. I didn’t grow up there and learned enroute that my surfer buddies weren’t planning on doing the traditional towel change because they “didn’t have to”)

    I hope people at these coastal institutions get to go out and enjoy the beach every now and then, otherwise they’re missing out on one of the best benefits!