$1 million bequest to support undergraduate education and research

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The late Lorraine and Masuo Toji have left $1 million to our department to support undergraduate education and research.

Dr. Masuo Toji, known as Mas, received his bachelor’s degree in science from UCLA in 1957 and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1963. After graduation, he began his long career as a chemist for one of the nation’s largest chemical companies, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, in Wilmington, Delaware, working in the area of agricultural products.

Dr. Lorraine Toji graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan in 1960 and was a member of the chemistry faculty their from 1961 to 1965. Following her marriage to Mas and the completion of her Ph.D. in biochemical pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1965, Lorraine joined the staff at Coriell Institute for Medical Research where, although officially retired in 2013, she continued to work part time as a human genetics scientist until the time of her death.  

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Dr. Masuo “Mas” Toji, Dr. Lorraine Toji, the Tojis fishing in Alaska.

Mas and Lorraine met at the University of Colorado, as Lorraine was attending a summer course and Mas was finishing his Ph.D. courses. They were married in Berkeley, California in 1965.  

Toji Lorraine 650Mas passed away in 2003 and Lorraine in 2017. Their bequest reflects the couple’s passion for education. In addition to careers as scientists, the two enjoyed fishing, and Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, in which they would use the flowers they had grown in their garden. Lorraine was President of the International Ikebana Society and taught Ikebana at their home. (She is pictured right with an Ikebana arrangement). Mas was also a talented wood worker and made much of the furnishings found in their two homes. 

“For being so very highly-educated, they were very down-to-earth people. Education was very important to them,” said Lorraine’s sister Lorna Conrad. “They taught people as they could, perhaps not their professional field, but the things they had interest in such as flower arranging, or growing flowers. They were very kind people.”

Upon learning of the Toji’s gift, Mas’ former co-worker at E.I. du Pont and a fellow Bruin, Dr. Art Bellettini, said “such a wonderful gift to UCLA speaks volumes of the kind of person he was.”

In the summer of 2019, three undergraduate chemistry students, Arthur Huang, Junho Kwon, and Carolyn Wu, conducted research in the department as the inaugural Lorraine H. and Masuo Toji Summer Research Fellows.

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2019 Lorraine H. and Masuo Toji Summer Research Fellows Carolyn Wu and Arthur Huang (Junho Kwon not pictured) with instructor Dr. 

Heather Tienson-Tseng

 at the 2019 Departmental Awards Ceremony.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.