Professor of Chemistry Emeritus Dana W. Mayo, who passed away in November 2016 at the age of 88, played a pivotal role in the growth of the College’s chemistry department. With the support of his family, former students and the College, “Doc Mayo,” as he was known by his students, was honored this week through the creation the Dana Walker Mayo Fund. Sarah Luppino ’10, a former student of Mayo’s, delivered its inaugural lecture last Friday in Druckenmiller Hall.
Luppino earned her PhD in chemistry at MIT. Her talk was titled “Synthetic Approaches Employed to Access Two Different Sets of Linearly-Conjugated Ladder Compounds.”
In addition to hosting lecturers, the fund financially supports undergraduate research in chemistry and related fields with fellowships, supplies and travel.
“[Professor Mayo] would look out and find students in his class who often weren’t the very best students. But he would grab them and give them confidence that they could be successful. He would help them see what [they] could do through research,” said Elizabeth Stemmler, the James Stacy Coles professor of natural sciences and a former colleague of Mayo’s.
Stemmler recalled Mayo’s commitment to the Bowdoin chemistry department and credits him for helping make it research-intensive. The fund emphasizes interdisciplinary research, which is appropriate considering Mayo’s contributions to the environmental studies and chemistry departments. The story of his arrival at Bowdoin exemplified this dedication.
“He paid students to do research out of his own pocket when he was getting started,” Stemmler said.
“Our chemistry department would not be the department it is without all of the things that Professor Mayo did,” she added.