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MAY 21, 2001--David Oertel, a senior from Hamilton, Ohio, has been awarded a graduate fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. Oertel is the first Oberlin student to receive an award from the Hertz foundation. This fall, he will begin study toward a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In graduating from Oberlin, Oertel, a chemistry and mathematics major, will follow his father, Richard Oertel ’64, and his sister, Catherine Oertel ’99, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Cornell University. All three studied with Professor Norman Craig, emeritus professor of chemistry.

"David is an outstanding researcher," says Craig. "Even as an undergraduate, he has been able to understand and apply high levels of quantum mechanical theory to his research."

For his part, Oertel has greatly enjoyed working with Craig. "Norman Craig is a wonderful teacher who cares deeply about his research."

Last summer, Craig and Oertel were involved in the analysis of the complex structure in the high-resolution infrared spectrum of a fluorocarbon very similar to one being used as a replacement for CFC refrigerants. The result of the overall effort is a complete structure of the molecule and a paper of which Oertel is a co-author that will appear in a June issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry.

In addition to his academic work, Oertel has participated in the Oberlin College-Community Strings Orchestra, playing in both the violin and viola sections. He also acted as chair of the chemistry majors committee for two years and served on several departmental student committees for the evaluation of faculty candidates.

Each year, the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation awards approximately twenty-five fellowships to college seniors and current graduate students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in the applied physical sciences and who exhibit exceptional creativity, a broad understanding of physical principles, and outstanding potential for innovative research.

The Hertz fellowship consists of a cost-of-education allowance and personal-support stipend that is renewable annually for a tenure of five years.


Media Contact: Sue Kropp