Getting To Know Tom Lane

“Tom, mind if I do a quick experiment with you?” I asked ACS President-Elect Tom Lane after the Women in Industry Breakfast this morning. He was curious. “Mind if I follow you to your next event and see how many people stop you along the way to chat or say hi?” “Sure,” Tom said, in his typical good-natured way. This is perfect, I thought. We were going the 3/4 mile or so from the Marriott on Canal St. to the convention center, and if my theory holds, he’ll get stopped a half dozen or so times. “How many times do you usually get stopped?” I asked. Tom admitted that he gets stopped quite a bit, especially outside. “Does it annoy you to get stopped so often?” I asked. “Not at all,” he responded. “I like talking to people, and business is all about personal interactions.” During our 15-minute walk, I learned a few things about Tom. 1) He occasionally get mistaken for a police officer. 2) He wears a bow tie to remind him of his mother, who passed away around Christmas. He grew up poor, and his mother would make bow ties out of scrap fabrics for him and his five brothers so they would look good on special occasions. She would also make things for his only sister. 3) He learned to tie a bow tie on YouTube. 4) The red bow tie he’s wearing today … he tied himself. img_6700a.jpg 5) He’s a hardcore photographer, just like me. In fact, he’s even more hardcore than I am because he uses a large-format film camera, develops his own film in his "large" basement darkroom, and displays his photos at local museums. 6) He was inspired to take up photography by his mother, who was a delivery room nurse. She would use her twin-lens camera to take photos of every baby that left the hospital, and she would develop the film herself. It was her way to combine her passion for photography with work. 7) You can see some of Tom’s photos on his Facebook page. He just put up a photo of him and his gigantic camera. By the time we got to the convention center, I realized that nobody had stopped us along the way. I’m glad they didn’t because I feel like I know Tom a lot better now than I did before I stopped him this morning. Thanks, Tom.

Author: Linda Wang

Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

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1 Comment

  1. Nice piece, Linda. Some things even I didn’t know about Tom.