Alumni memories of emeriti professors Frank Lambert and Bob Winter
No Greater Influence
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Frank Lambert (“A Centenarian of Chemistry,” Winter) but lift my voice with others in praise of and gratitude for a person who inspired so many of us. I can think of no other teacher who had a greater influence on my educational journey than Frank Lambert. As a junior at Oxy, even though I was a chem major, I was working my way through the usual science and math curricula with no compelling sense of being drawn toward a specific area of specialization. That was until I enrolled in Lambert’s organic chem course. Quickly he brought to life a world of chemistry that was truly fascinating, and relevant to almost every aspect of life.
His lectures were a model of organization, amplifying theoretical concepts with concrete examples, and sharing his own love of this discipline. His diligence in reading the scientific literature allowed him to introduce “cutting-edge” topics such as molecular orbital theory, which was then in its infancy. During those years, being actively engaged in research was not all that common among teachers in small colleges. But he, along with students, found time to make significant contributions in the field of organic polarography.
A wonderful trait of Frank’s was to share anecdotal experiences with students as though they were colleagues. Some may know that Frank completed his bachelor’s degree at Harvard. He was visiting with me once about his years there, and recalled frequently listening to Leonard Bernstein playing a piano in a music building. They attended Harvard during the same four years.
As my graduation time neared, Frank encouraged me to apply to a number of graduate schools, and he wrote letters in support. I have no doubt that it was his letter that led to an acceptance at MIT. In reflection, I think that Frank had more confidence in me than I did at the time. A couple of years later I was working at a lab bench in my research lab when I glanced up and saw the familiar figure and smiling face of Frank Lambert. I believe that he was back in the Cambridge area to visit friends or family and took the time to stop by and look me up. What an amazing thing to do!
Frank’s inspiration and support eventually led me to a richly memorable career in the chemistry department at San Diego State University. I will always be in debt to him for his mentoring and friendship.
Ed Grubbs ’56
A Little Bit of Lambert
Thank you for your article on Frank Lambert. My experiences in his classes were inspirational and helped propel my career in chemistry. After graduating from Oxy, I completed a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder and did postdoctoral research at UCLA. I then took an industrial job and served as a research chemist, laboratory manager, R&D group leader, and ultimately principal scientist for a division of a Global Fortune 500 company, but always getting into the lab to do my own hands-on research.
After publishing more than 70 scientific papers, patents, and book chapters and presenting my research at scores of international conferences, I recently started a new career teaching organic chemistry, currently at Metropolitan State University of Denver. I continue to be inspired by my memories of Professor Lambert’s lucid and entertaining style of teaching and even still have notes I took in his classes. There’s probably a little bit of Frank Lambert in every chemistry lecture I give.
David M. Schubert ’79
Lone Tree, Colo.
A Belated Thanks to Bob Winter
I regret never thanking Robert Winter for the guidance he provided during my time at Oxy and well beyond. Back in the United States after many years, I planned to thank Bob in person during his book signing at Oxy on Dec. 9, 2018, but unfortunately had to cancel my trip. Exactly two months later, Bob passed away and my gratitude only swelled.
I remember well taking his Social History of American Art during my first days as a freshman in 1988. Bob stimulated me to take a stance, to journal and opine instead of merely recording what went on in class, showing how the material moved me while reflecting critically upon it. To this day, I hold many of these things dear to my heart. Bob Winter showed me the life there is in learning. For this, I am eternally grateful to him. Rest in peace, Bob!
Otto Driessen ’92