Lisa Bermudez retired from the Department of Chemistry in August 2020. She had served as main office secretary since April 2018, providing administrative support to faculty and staff. Prior to joining the department, Lisa worked in the Department of Psychology, and before that held a position at Roswell Park Cancer Institute for 30 years. She and her husband have relocated to North Carolina.
Priscilla B. Clarke has been a member of the University at Buffalo community for 65 years. She began as an undergraduate in 1955 through 1959, when the university was known as the University of Buffalo. During that period she conducted undergraduate research with Professor Howard Tieckelmann; this work resulted in two publications concerning organic synthesis. Upon graduation she was appointed to the staff position of Lecture Demonstrator, responsible for chemistry demonstrations in the general chemistry program. In 1979 she was named Director of the General Chemistry laboratory program, her title until she retired last year.
Over the period 1979 to 2020, the number of students taking general chemistry each Fall rose from about 1600 to about 2500. There are approximately 50 teaching assistants assigned to the general chemistry program, all supervised by the Laboratory Director. Clarke was responsible for arranging all the labs, all the hand-outs, all the lab schedules, all the grading schemes for the labs, all the TA instructions, copying and distribution of all the exams, and maintaining all the grade records. She instructed the stockroom personnel concerning chemicals and equipment required each week for each lab and arranged with the Laboratory Manager for the purchase of needed chemicals each semester. Clarke dealt with students who have individual problems such as registration problems, physical handicaps which cause problems performing the labs, students trying to get excused absences from various labs, academic dishonesty concerning the labs, safety issues (including accidents with injuries), and complaints about the TAs ranging from language skills to inappropriate behavior. She established an excellent reputation with faculty, undergraduate students, graduate TAs, stockroom personnel, upper administration, and parents.
In her position as supervisor of the TAs for the general chemistry program she oversaw about 75% of the graduate students who pass through our program. She was responsible for orientation of new TAs and also assisted in determining the recipients of the Department’s Mattern-Tyler Awards for outstanding TAs.
In addition to her responsibilities as Laboratory Director, Clarke also taught CHE 376, Introduction to Chemical Literature, which is required for our Chemistry BS degree program. This course is a vital part of the Chemistry curriculum, which once just focused on books and journals, but now is heavily involved with electronic databases.
Clarke was very active with the undergraduate Chemistry majors. She organized the Department of Chemistry’s highly successful undergraduate awards ceremony after commencement each year and arranged for all the awards to be prepared and presented. In fact, she performed this responsibility since the first one ever, 37 years ago.
Clarke’s contributions to the University were recognized in 2008 by the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.