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He (almost) never has to wear a tie

  • Hosting the governor
    Hosting the governor  Tie-clad J.C. Poutsma (center) and Matt Bernier ’09 explain the lab's work to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (right).  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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J.C. Poutsma of the William & Mary chemistry department is featured this week in a piece headlined “Being a Scientist Means (Almost) Never Wearing a Tie” on ScienceLives, a cooperative venture between the National Science Foundation and the LiveScience web site.

ScienceLives is a feature based on responses to a set of 10 questions. The scientists answer queries ranging from the societal benefit of their research to the type of music they play in the lab. (In the Poutsma lab, heavy metal rules—and he’s not talking about a section of the Periodic Table.)

“We want to try to bring a human perspective to the research field,” said Joshua Chamot, media officer at the NSF and a 1998 graduate of William & Mary. “A lot of times, stories about scientists or engineers get framed in certain ways. Stereotypes are applied or views are pigeonholed. The idea here is to let the researchers give a little bit of behind-the-scenes background on what they actually do day-to-day.”

The feature includes photos showing two sides of Poutsma. In one, the nattily dressed chemist gives Virginia Governor Tim Kaine a tour of his new lab in the Integrated Science Center. Another shot shows Poutsma clad in a KISS t-shirt and a cape, working the crowd at the 2007 Raft Debate at the College.

Chamot explained that NSF’s partnership with LiveScience has been a fruitful one, generating a variety of features about NSF-supported scientists and their work. They’re popular, too; Chamot says LiveScience web features generate up to 100,000 hits. Readers can comment on the stories, as well. One reader concluded his or her remarks by writing, “…it is great that Dr. Poutsma is so excited about his work and I hope he will continue to inspire and find new approaches in the lab and classroom.”

Any NSF-supported researcher at William and Mary who is interested in being considered for a ScienceLives feature should contact Joe McClain, director of research communications at the College, at