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Jeff Bode ’96

Field of His Dreams

By Donna Parker

Two things you immediately realize about Jeff Bode, who received bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and chemistry from Trinity in 1996 — he’s very smart and ultimately modest, particularly when asked about being named one of the “50 Best Brains in Science for 2008” by Discover magazine. (article in December 2008 issue)

“I feel out of place.  I don’t think what we do requires intelligence so much – it’s a lot more creativity,” says this synthetic organic chemistry professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeff, along with his team, came up with a completely different way to produce an amide bond or a connection between organic molecules and a peptide bond.  He says much of this solution to a recognized problem in science utilized creative thinking among the team.

“We were working on different approaches when the solution came to us.  We were surprised that no one had discovered this before,” says Jeff.

Jeff appreciates the collaborative nature of science, even though when he left Trinity in 1996 to work on his Ph.D. at Cal Tech, he worried that his friends were going off to exotic locales with the Peace Corps and he would be “stuck in a lab.”  He’s since gotten over that fear, especially after his graduate and postdoctoral studies took him abroad for five years, first to Switzerland and then to Japan.

“Science is such an international field.  There are scientists working in my area of specialty all over the world.  In my research group alone are people from 10 different countries.”

Jeff says Michael Doyle, department of chemistry, led him to become a chemist.

“I wasn’t even a chemistry major, but my research experiences in his courses is why I became a chemist, although my primary degree is in philosophy.”

“I liked Trinity because the undergrads had the run of the place, which isn’t so at larger universities and it provides an atmosphere where you can be yourself.  That is very valuable.”

When not toiling in the lab, Jeff spends time playing with his 4-year-old daughter, Emiko.  He and his wife, Yoko, have been married for five years.  They recently moved to PA from Santa Barbara and are adapting to the northeast.  He stays in touch with his Trinity friends and fondly remembers the Liberty Bar in San Antonio.

“Trinity shaped who I’ve become.  Having a liberal arts background has been very important to my success.”

You may e-mail Jeff at jeffreybode@mac.com.