J. K. Bhattacharjee's Retirement Celebration
Dr. Anne Morris Hooke's remarks at the May 5, 2005 retirement celebration for Dr. J. K. Bhattacharjee:
It is my very great pleasure to say perhaps more than just a few words about Dr. J. K. Bhattacharjee. Dr. B. was born in India in what is now known as Bangladesh. He came to the US in 1961 to pursue a PhD at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and then spent some time at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia as a post-doc and researcher. He was appointed Associate Professor of Microbiology at Miami University in 1968 by Bud Williamson, then the chair of our department. In 1973 Dr. B was promoted to Professor. He has served Miami for an incredible 37 years!
Dr. B. has had an extremely productive research career; he has enjoyed continuous external funding for his research, and he published more than 70 papers, most focusing on the lysine genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the application of the knowledge gained to the treatment of life-threatening infections with the pathogen Candida albicans. He has received several patents for processes resulting from his research on the lysine pathway, and in 1982, the Miami University chapter of Sigma Xi chose him for its Researcher of the Year Award.
Dr. B. has a remarkable reputation as an outstanding teacher in the classroom, and he has also published several papers in the area of teaching - especially on teaching evolution. Every year I am delighted to read students' comments on his evaluations - they are just crazy about him as a teacher, and they praise his knowledge and enthusiasm for science.
For all his success in teaching and research at Miami, Dr. B is revered across the campus for his activities on behalf of students of color and non-US ethnicity. He has been a mentor to minority students both officially and unofficially for all the years he has been at Miami and long before diversity was promoted as university policy. His contributions to the University over the years have included service on the President's Council on Multicultural Affairs, the President's Task Force on Human Relations, the University Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee, University Senate, Graduate Council, Student Affairs Council, the English Language Proficiency Committee, the Graduate Students Achievement Award Committee, the Faculty Research Committee, the Biosafety Committee, and Faculty Conference. Dr. B. has served on and chaired numerous departmental committees, most notably our Research, Curriculum and Distinguished Lecturers Committees. For several years Dr. B. directed his signature NSF-funded DNA summer workshops for high school teachers who came from all over Ohio to learn and take back to their schools techniques and equipment used for studying DNA. His work with the High School Junior Scholars Program, the Howard Hughes-funded CAMAS Program, and the Southwest Ohio District Science Council was recognized by a special award from the Miami University chapter of Sigma Xi in 1991.
Dr. B.'s service to Oxford and our wider community is legendary. His enthusiasm at the annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast is positively infectious and I for one look forward to the event every year. He is involved in the Oxford Community Foundation, the Ghandi Family House for Homeless Mothers, the Ghandi Food Drive for the Freestore in Cincinnati, the Talawanda Gifted Children's Program, The Chicago-Based Bangladesh Relief for Refugees, the Talawanda Key Club and Middle School Builders Club, and the Indian Community in Cincinnati. Dr. B. was recognized as an Oxford Man of the Year in 2003, and earlier this year he received the Lavatus Powell Award for his contributions to inclusion and diversity in both the University and the Community.
I cannot imagine microbiology at Miami without Dr. B - it will be like dropping the "B" in MBI. By the way, I have heard there are two contenders vying for the honor of being called Dr. B but I think it should be like retiring a number when a top athlete retires. So Dr. Bridge and Dr. Balish - we'll think about it - maybe in 20 years or so.
I now invite Dr. Woodworth to say a few words, and then - since we've paid for the microphone for the full hour - I will ask Dr. B.'s friends and colleagues to contribute to this celebration. The Mayor of Oxford, Jerome Conley, has a special announcement to make before we present Dr. B. with his retirement gift and then we will wish him all the very best in his retirement and hope that he will come back to visit often!
From a letter by Kathy Foster:
When I think of Dr. B. I can just see his smiling face and remember his uplifting personality. He is truly the kindest, most caring person I have ever met. It was a pleasure working for him and even though it was a challenge sometimes for me to work my way through some of his grants and manuscripts (with all the long words that I didn't understand) I truly enjoyed doing it and felt proud to know and work with Dr. B.
I can't imagine him not being there next year but I am so happy for him and his family to have the time they need to pursue other interests (I have found out there is life after retirement and it is good!)
I know he will always be a part of the department and the community and continue all his good works. I wish him all the best. He is a legend in his own time!
Good luck, Dr. B.
A poem for Dr. B:
A pleasant smile always on his face
He loves what he does