2023 Alumni Legacy Award

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Profs. Karen and William Timberlake

UCLA alumni Karen Timberlake (M.S. ’65) and William Timberlake (M.S. ’66) received the 2023 Alumni Legacy Award at the Chemistry & Biochemistry Departmental Awards Ceremony on May 31.

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.

Department Chair Professor Neil Garg and Professor Catherine Clarke presented the award to Drs. Karen and William Timberlake.

At the ceremony, the award was presented to the Timberlakes by Department Chair Professor Neil Garg and former Department Chair Professor Catherine Clarke, who helped to establish the award in 2018.

The Timberlakes, with their family and friends, listen as Prof. Garg introduced them.

Karen Timberlake is professor emeritus of chemistry at Los Angeles Valley College, where she taught chemistry for allied health and preparatory chemistry for over 30 years.  She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Washington and her Master’s degree in biochemistry from UCLA. 

Bill Timberlake is a professor emeritus at Los Angeles Harbor College and taught preparatory and organic chemistry for more than 30 years.  He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and his Master’s degree in organic chemistry from UCLA.

(Left) Karen Timberlake poses for a photo with the award. (Right) The Timberlakes with friends and family at the reception following the ceremony.

The Timberlakes have been writing chemistry textbooks and study guides for many years.  Some of the books authored by Karen include Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry (in its 13th edition) and also General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry: Structures of Life.  Karen and Bill co-authored Basic Chemistry, which is currently in its sixth edition.  More than one million students have learned chemistry using texts, laboratory manuals, and study guides written by the Timberlakes.

Bill and Karen Timberlake pose for a photo with their “molecule” on the donor wall in the new Centennial Collaboratory.

Both Karen and Bill have also been avid supporters of UCLA and our department, having attended many departmental events throughout the years, serving on the Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair’s Council, and also having made a number of generous philanthropic contributions for the benefit of student education, including donations to the Centennial Collaboratory. 

The Timberlakes at their wedding.

The Timberlakes were both graduate students when they met at UCLA in 1962 and were married soon after in 1965.   In addition to their textbook writing they are avid travelers and ballroom dancers.  Their son is a psychologist and their two grandchildren are in college.

Previous recipients of the Alumni Legacy Award are: in 2020 to Dr. Ralph Bauer, in 2019 to Dr. Shyr-Jin “Jim” Tsay, and in 2018 to Dr. Audree Fowler, Dr. Atsuko Fujimoto, Dr. Margaret Holzer and Dr. Kate Murashige.  (Due to the pandemic, the award was not given in 2021 and 2022.)

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