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Roger Sandwick researches the chemical reaction between amines and proteins.

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Chemistry Professor Plans to Retire this Summer

May 9, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Professor Roger K. Sandwick, who has taught chemistry and biochemistry at the college level for 32 years, has announced his decision to retire this summer.

Sandwick joined the Middlebury faculty in 2002, and has taught courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, instrumental analysis, biochemistry of macromolecules, and biochemistry of metabolism.

His research is centered on Maillard chemistry, a complex series of reactions between amines and proteins that generate myriad compounds with an array of colors, aromas, and flavors. Maillard reactions are crucial to the study of food science, and Middlebury students have worked in Sandwick's lab to explore the chemical reaction of one intracellular sugar, ribose 5-phosphate (R5P), with target proteins.

His papers published in biochemistry journals frequently list three or four Middlebury undergraduates as co-authors. He has also collaborated on papers with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and his research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, American Chemical Society, and Dreyfus Foundation.  

Always upbeat, Sandwick has served Middlebury College in a number of other capacities including chair of the department, program director for molecular biology and biochemistry, and as a member of the pre-health advisory committee. He also co-directed the Posse Summer Science Program, has been a Posse mentor, and served on the Italian School Advisory Committee, Counseling Center Advisory Committee, and the Animal Care Committee.

Sandwick is known for encouraging and advising undergrads to conduct public chemistry demonstrations – sometimes called “Alchemistry Phun” or “The Mr. Wizard Show” – for children in the community.

When asked to comment on his impending retirement, Sandwick’s immediate response is to applaud his students. “The one thing I’ve found especially true about Middlebury students is that they are so incredibly gracious. They fully appreciate the academic experience and are thankful for the guidance they receive as they move forward in their lives.  

“At the end of every lecture or research session, they always say ‘Thank you, professor!’ as they leave the room. Their enthusiasm for life is so infectious that it is impossible not to feel fully content with life. I hope all my former students realize just how grateful I am for keeping me young over the past 30 years.”

Originally from Canton in upstate New York, Roger Sandwick graduated from Alfred University in 1976 and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Lehigh University. He launched his teaching career in 1985 as a part-time instructor at Allentown College and Albright College.

As soon as he completed his doctoral dissertation, he was offered a tenure-track position in chemistry at SUNY Plattsburgh where he attained the rank of full professor and was an active member of the faculty for 16 years. In 2002 Sandwick joined the Middlebury faculty, first as a visiting professor, next as an associate professor, and since 2014 as a full professor.

Sandwick says he’s had “extraordinary luck” his entire professional life. “First to be invited back home to the North Country to teach at Plattsburgh in the mid-1980s and then, in an odd twist of fate, to step into a position at Middlebury. I can think of no other occupation that could be more enjoyable than to be a faculty member, spending each day with young, motivated scholars. 

“I’ve cherished every moment I spent with students who challenged me and made me laugh. I particularly loved the opportunities to work one-on-one with research students trying to answer questions that were at that point unsolved. The sharing of frustrations and successes in experimental science created close bonds between us that will last a lifetime.”

Sandwick and his wife, Lorraine, a physician’s assistant, make their home in Westport, N.Y.

1 Comment

Congrats on your retirement Professor Sandwick! You're a great professor and a great brother as well! Your little sister, Barb

by Barb Clough (not verified)

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