Hilda Karlsson Roderick Lecture

The inaugural Hilda Karlsson Roderick Lecture will take place in the spring of 2017. We anticipate this annual event will bring an exciting speaker to campus each year with the goal of stimulating interest in science fields, spark curiosity in younger scientists, offer topics of further exploration, and enrich the current faculty at Berea College. This will take place on Friday of March 24th, 2017. The speaker shall be given a commemorative wooden bowl along with a small honorarium. The events will be publicized in advance and the general public outside Berea is certainly welcome to participate.

Robert Crabtree

We are excited to announce that our first speaker will be Robert Crabtree from Yale University. Professor Crabtree will discuss innovations in inorganic chemistry from his 40 year career from 1977 to the present. The title of the talk will be Catalysts for Energy Applications. The talk will begin at 4:30PM in Science Hall, Room 106 with refreshments served at 4:00PM in the lobby. Additional information about Professor Crabtree can be found on his website at the chemistry department of Yale University.


Cannizzaro ReactionCatalysis is an essential aspect of alternative energy research. Water splitting to O2 and H2 is needed for artificial photosynthesis, CH hydroxylation relates to functionalization of organic compounds and dehydrogenative oxidation extracts H2 from biomass products such as glycerol. An example of the latter is glycerol conversion to lactic acid, a much higher value product than the starting material.


At Yale since 1977, Bob Crabtree is now Whitehead Professor. He has been ACS and RSC organometallic chemistry awardee, Baylor medalist, Mond lecturer, Kosolapoff awardee, Stauffer Lecturer, has chaired the ACS Inorganic Division and is the author of an organometallic textbook. Early work on catalytic alkane C-H activation and functionalization was followed by work on H2 complexes, dihydrogen bonding, and catalysis for green and energy chemistry. He is a Fellow of the ACS and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The lecture series is being funded by Hilda Karlsson Roderick who was born in 1927 to immigrant parents living a warm, but simple farm life in Southern Maryland. Grateful to have found Berea, she graduated with honors in 1948 and went on to receive a Masters in biochemistry from Oklahoma A&M College and a teaching credential from University of California Berkley. She taught high school and also worked as a research assistant at the University. She later joined the MDI Biological Laboratory as a technician to earn supplemental college tuition money for her children.

She met and married Thomas H. Roderick and moved to Bar Harbor, ME. Thomas was a research scientist and professor at the Jackson Laboratory. They frequently hosted scientific guests in their home. They had a family, including a son and daughter, Margarethe and George, and kept busy with school and many activities, including scouting for both. Hilda became involved with scouting at the national and international levels of Girl Scouts, and was named an “Honorary World Member.”

Berea always rings a happy note for Hilda and her family, as they visited campus, as well as met friends and faculty. Thomas always joined Hilda for her class reunions. Hilda served Berea by coordinating “Berea Day in Maine” for 30 years, an annual gathering of Berea Alumni, and received the President’s “Alumni Loyalty Award” at her 60th Berea Reunion.