Dana Roth Awarded Thomas W. Schmitt Annual Staff Prize

The Thomas W. Schmitt Annual Staff Prize is presented to a staff member of the Caltech community whose contributions embody the values and spirit that enable the Institute to achieve excellence in research and education. The Library is thrilled to announce that one of our own, Dana Roth, Chemistry Librarian, received this great honor on June 3, 2008.

Dana began his career at Caltech by earning a Master’s degree in Chemistry and then promptly filling a new, much needed Chemistry Librarian position in 1965, just as post-Sputnik science research was growing so furiously. He quickly established himself in the Gates Chemistry Library, and within a short period became so well known that he was enticed overseas on a couple exchange programs. 

Though focused primarily on research services, Dana has served and aided colleagues in 4 year colleges, other smaller universities, and community colleges to help them in numerous ways provide the best possible science and chemistry services. He served as bibliographer for the ‘Chemistry’ selection of the Resources for College Libraries, a subsection of the journal, Choice. He frequently gives workshops on “Chemistry and Chemical Librarianship for the non-Chemist” at Library conferences. He worked for the profession in general by serving locally in the state’s Science and Engineering Academic Libraries organization and providing valued input on continuing education and professional skills workshops.

Quiet and unassuming (though tall enough to take the stand-out position he has earned) Dana is so well known, so recognized by staff and faculty in every Caltech campus organization – from Biology to Physics, Technology Transfer to Development and Physical Plant – that all know the depth of background he has to offer. Ask Dana a question about Caltech, ranging from who trims the campus trees, to what the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for, to locating a retrosynthetic approach to generate a spirocyclic core for natural products synthesis; he will know or he will make a brief note, put it in his breast pocket, and shortly provide the answer.

Libraries and librarianship have changed radically over the span of Dana’s career, requiring an ability to learn and adapt to continually evolving technologies and methods. It is remarkable that Dana has unfailingly kept up, providing one on one assistance to others as needed, as well as offering classes that have always attracted graduate students, postdocs, colleagues, staff and even alumni. He continues to serve and contribute his wealth of knowledge so critical to serious intellectual pursuits. He has had a lasting impact on all who have encountered him and definitely a lasting impact on Caltech.

We congratulate Dana on this well-deserved and earned campus-wide recognition!