Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome to FMR's Commemoration Blog

You are invited to join in commemorating Frederic Middlebrook Richards. This blog has been created by his children to allow family, friends, and colleagues to share their memories and wishes of this hardworking and beloved man.

1 comment:

  1. I was really saddened to learn about Fred’s passing. The field of protein chemistry has lost one of its great pioneers and Yale has lost one of its finest scientists. I was one of Fred’s graduate students from 1985 to 1991 and during the time I knew Fred, he was one of those people who seemed to have infinite energy and boundless curiosity. I thought he would never get old, and like Fred’s old supervisor John Edsall, I just figured he would be around long after even I retired.
    To me, losing your graduate supervisor is a bit like losing a parent or grandparent. For 5 or 6 years of your life, you live and work in a shared “home” (the lab), you see them almost everyday, you laugh with them, chat with them, argue with them and learn from them. In many respects, you grow up into a real scientist under their mentorship. You also become part of a larger family of fellow graduate students, post-docs and technicians. That extended family is always bound together by the fact that you all shared the same boss -- the lab patriarch. It was a great privilege to have worked with Fred and to be able to have had him as a mentor. With Fred gone and with Johnnie Mouning’s passing, I guess all we (Fred’s extended lab family) have now are the fond memories of our times together.
    I recall the last time I saw Fred was back in 2001. He was just about to submit his "last" scientific paper (on methylene labeling as a surface probe for proteins) and was starting to close out his lab in the Gibbs building. I was out East with my wife and kids and we kind of made a habit of dropping in on Fred and/or Johnnie once every couple of years as we passed through New Haven. At the time Fred was still as excited as ever about his research and was fascinated about the possibilities of using mass spectrometry to determine protein 3D structures and structural features. As always, Fred was slightly ahead of the rest of the scientific community on this idea. I see that several groups (including mine at the U of Alberta) are now trying to finish what Fred started. If there's one thing I learned from Fred was that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things and to think a little bit outside the box. I will really miss him.

    David Wishart
    Professor, Depts. of Biological Sciences and Computing Science
    Senior Research Officer, National Institute of Nanotechnology
    University of Alberta
    Edmonton, AB, Canada
    T6G 2E8


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