2020 Alumni Legacy Award

Posted on

Bauer 2

Dr Ralph Bauer (BS ’52, PhD ’58) has been selected to receive the 2020 UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Alumni Legacy Award.

“Dr. Bauer, you honor us with your lifetime of achievements” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in the video announcement of the award. “You represent the very best of UCLA and we are proud to have you as part of the Bruin family. Congratulations!”

The award honors distinguished UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry alumni who have received a graduate-level degree from UCLA, in recognition of their achievements in life, and generous support and service to the university. For over 70 years, Dr. Bauer has been a True Bruin, contributing greatly to UCLA and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Department Chair, Professor Neil Garg noted that “Dr. Bauer is amongst the most accomplished of our Ph.D. graduates. We are deeply honored to have Dr. Bauer as a member of the Chemistry & Biochemistry community and are proud to name him the 2020 Alumni Legacy Award recipient.”

Dr. Bauer will be honored at a future Chemistry & Biochemistry Departmental Awards ceremony. The Bauer Legacy Award video (by Kavich Reynolds Productions) provides insight into Dr. Bauer’s remarkable life and career.

Dr.  Bauer was born in Los Angeles of immigrant parents. After attending North Hollywood High School, Dr. Bauer entered UCLA in 1948 to study chemistry. From the very beginning of his time at UCLA, Dr. Bauer was a trail-blazer. He played freshman basketball during Coach John Wooden’s first year at UCLA and was influenced tremendously on the court and throughout his life by Wooden’s character-building “Pyramid of Success”. In 1952, Dr. Bauer received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and married his high school sweetheart Charlene Uhlik, also a UCLA alumna.

He then spent two years in the U.S. Navy prior to returning to UCLA in 1954 to join the research group of Nobel Laureate Professor Donald Cram as a chemistry graduate student. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1958. Dr. Cram credited Dr. Bauer’s Ph.D. thesis as having foreshadowed the research for which he received the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Five Glenn T. Seaborg Medalists together at UCLA in 1995. Dr. George Rathmann, Dr. John D. Roberts, Nobel Laureate Dr. Donald Cram, Dr. Ralph Bauer, and Nobel Laureate Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.

After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Bauer joined Shell Development Corporation as a Research Scientist, and then in 1966, he joined Unocal as a Research Chemist. He became the International Marketing Manager of the Petrochemical Division of Unocal in 1983. Dr. Bauer retired from Unocal in 1985.

In 1987, along with UCLA Development, Dr. Bauer formulated the idea for the department’s biggest and most important event of the year, the annual Seaborg Symposium and Medal Award Dinner. He was honored with the medal in 1992.  Dr. Bauer and his wife, Charlene, continue to attend the Seaborg Medal dinner as often as they are able.

At the 2011 Departmental Awards Ceremony, Dr. Bauer speaks about the Ralph & Charlene Bauer Research Award and presents the winner with a certificate.

In 1988, the Bauers established an endowment in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department which provides fellowships and awards to UCLA graduate students. For many years, Dr. Bauer would introduce the recipients at the awards ceremony, reading the following: “Three of our four parents were immigrants to the United States. UCLA offered immigrant’s children opportunities beyond their wildest dreams. What we didn’t know when we started at UCLA was that we would have the great fortune to be associated with an outstanding Chemistry department, a superb faculty, and the totally unanticipated benefit of working with Nobel Laureate Professor Donald J. Cram.”

In 2017, Dr. Bauer gave an inspiring talk to the department’s “Careers in Chemistry & Biochemistry” class in which he discussed his experiences in life and his passion for giving back to the community and for bettering oneself through education and hard work.

(Left) In 2017, Dr. Bauer gave an inspiring talk at our Careers in Chemistry & Biochemistry class. (Right) Dr. Bauer and his wife Charlene with Dean Robin Garrell (center) at the 2019 Seaborg Medal Award Dinner.

Throughout his life, Dr. Bauer has been deeply involved in the communities in which he finds himself.  He has been very involved in local politics in his hometown, Huntington Beach. He served as the Mayor in 1997, as well as a councilmember from 1992 – 2002, and on various school boards. In addition to his work to improve the everyday lives of residents of Huntington Beach, Dr. Bauer has been a part of task forces on homelessness and on human relations through which he brought various religious leaders together crafted the statement on human dignity after a hate crime occurred in Huntington Beach. In 2012, a park in the city was dedicated in Dr. Bauer’s honor.

In 2012, a park in Huntington Beach was named after Dr. Bauer in recognition of his service to the city.

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