When Dr. Bodo Diehn was 15, a classmate in Germany showed him a textbook on chemistry, a subject he wasn’t scheduled to study until the following year. He had no inkling it would lead him on the path to a multifaceted career and ultimately result in his making a major gift to The University of Toledo.
“At 15, I was a jaded veteran of the usual hobbies,” Dr. Diehn said. “Within six weeks I understood chemistry at the elementary level at which the book presented it, and decided that I had to see these exciting transformations taking place.” He set up a laboratory in his apartment attic and started to make compounds which, to the “consternation and mystification of innocent bystanders and schoolteachers,” included bromoacetone—also known as teargas.
Seeing chemistry as a career with “the appeal of mysteries waiting to be discovered,” he received his undergraduate degree at the University of Hamburg before moving to the United States and eventually receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
Joining the faculty of The University of Toledo in 1966, Dr. Diehn rose through the ranks to professor in 1975. An outstanding teacher of chemistry and researcher in the field of biophysical chemistry, he focused on the effect of environmental agents on the visual systems of simple organisms. He was nominated for UT’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 1977 and was named the first Sigma Xi Outstanding Researcher at the University in 1978. In recognition of his achievements, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics awarded him the title of Distinguished Scholar of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
His extraordinary career includes serving as director of the Legislative Science Office of the Michigan Legislature, as well as establishing The University of Michigan’s Michigan Research Corporation to assist faculty in bringing their inventions to the marketplace. He also served in several positions in the state of Arizona, specializing in environmental protection and focusing on the control of hazardous materials, risk assessment and management, and regulations.
Yet nearly 40 years after leaving The University of Toledo, his time at UT remains memorable.
“I spent my short academic career, a dozen years only, entirely at The University of Toledo,” he noted.
With a concentration on research, he was “stunned” when he was awarded both the Atomic Energy Commission grant in hot-atom chemistry and the National Science Foundation grant for photomovement in microorganisms.
While also teaching at UT in his field of expertise, he decided he should learn more about instructional theory. “I took classes in the College of Education, did six weeks of student teaching at Whitmer High School, and got my secondary teaching certificate,” he said.
Besides his rewarding research and teaching endeavors, he also recalls his time at UT for other professional and personal accomplishments, including becoming a U.S. citizen and beginning his first foray into what he referred to as the “steam-engine era of computing."
Wanting to give back for what his tenure at UT provided him, Dr. Diehn recently created a full scholarship, the Dr. Bodo Diehn Scholarship in Chemistry, for a University of Toledo student majoring in chemistry.
“In my own studies, I had a free ride all the way to my Ph.D.,” he noted, “and I want a UT chemistry student to benefit from the same.” In addition, his scholarship fund will include a $500 monthly stipend for the student’s miscellaneous needs.
“By supporting an outstanding undergraduate,” he said, “I also hope to burnish our institution's and department's name with top-tier universities where the scholarship recipient may go for graduate studies.”
For more details on supporting students or programs in UT’s College of Natural Sciences and Math, contact Nick Butler, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-530-5413.