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Clara Brink Shoemaker

by Susan J. Ainsworth
August 9, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 32

Clara Brink Shoemaker, 88, an eminent crystallographer and senior research professor emeritus at Oregon State University (OSU), died of liver cancer at her Corvallis, Ore., home on Sept. 30, 2009.

Born in Rolde, the Netherlands, Shoemaker earned an undergraduate chemistry degree from the University of Leiden during the Nazi occupation of Holland. She then received a doctorate in chemical crystallography from Utrecht University in 1950.

After that, Shoemaker moved to Oxford, England, to work on vitamin B-12 with Dorothy Hodgkin for one year. In 1953, she gained further postdoctoral experience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with David P. Shoemaker, who was researching metal phases and using X-ray crystallography as a tool for determining their structures. The pair married in 1955, and she joined the MIT faculty as a research associate.

In journals including Acta Crystallographica, Clara Brink Shoemaker coauthored papers with numerous colleagues, pursuing interests such as intermetallic compounds, crystalline type A insulin sulfate, and the nature of the sulfur-oxygen bond.

In 1970, Shoemaker moved to Oregon with her husband, who had accepted chairmanship of the chemistry department at OSU. They jointly published 36 papers before his death in 1995.

Shoemaker is survived by her son, Robert, and grandson, Roland.

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