PSS Spring '11

Lab Partners In Love

Tim '01 and Kristin Riley '03 met in chemistry class in the
fall of 1999. Now, they're married and have a two-year-old
daughter, Ella.

It all started on the first day of Introduction to Chemistry in the Fall Term of 1999.

"I'd been avoiding chemistry, so I was the oldest guy in the class," says Tim Riley '01. "She was cute. I noticed that right away."

"He walked right over to me and said, 'Do you have a lab partner? Well you do now,'" says Kristin Schram Riley '03.

Through their work in the lab, they became friends, and when they ended up in the same calculus course winter term, Tim and Kristin decided to remain lab partners. "Tim would get so mad because I always finished my problem sets before him," laughs Kristin. "I tried to help him along, but I wasn't a very good teacher."

Despite Kristin's super-fast math skills, the pair worked together in three more courses and, over time, fell in love. "We worked well together in the lab and that gave us the equal footing and ways to communicate that started a great relationship," explains Kristin.

In 2001, Tim began graduate work at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. They continued dating, making frequent trips to visit each other, and in 2003, Tim popped the question.

"I proposed to her during spring exam week her senior year," he says. "I told all of her professors that I was going to propose, and I sort of kidnapped her for a couple of days."

They were married the following year, and they never stopped thinking of each other as partners. When Tim started his first business as a photographer, they photographed weddings together.

"Since that's how we started our relationship, I think we naturally gravitate toward collaborating," says Tim, who lives in Maine with Kristin and their two-year-old daughter, Ella.

These days, Kristin is a biophysicist at IDEXX Labs, and Tim owns and operates three businesses, including an e-commerce site for summer camp supplies.

"I end up helping him a lot with marketing and sales techniques," says Kristin. "We brainstorm together. It takes me out of science and gives Tim a different perspective."

"All of the things that made us good partners in the lab have worked just as well in our marriage," says Tim. "I love working with Kristin."

"I always joke that we're a test tube couple," says Kristin. "How many people can say that they married their lab partner?"

Janet Gold Bass ’78
Director of Product Development, Conair Corporation

Janet Bass I was a chemistry major, and there were only five other women in my class majoring in chemistry. We helped each other along; we created study groups, corrected each other’s labs and studied together. We weren’t competitive at all; we wanted each other to succeed. I have spent more than 30 years working in labs, and I can tell you that the best lab partner is the one you can count on to lend a hand, ask the right questions, and give you a hug when your beaker breaks at the end of the experiment. Many thanks to the friends and lab partners I have had over the years, especially those first partners I worked with at William Smith.

Kevin Campbell ’92
Director of US Marketing, Genzyme Transplant and Oncology

Kevin Campbell My senior year, the chemistry department offered a course on water chemistry with Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Ken Carle P’82, P’84, P’90. Part of the course was a trip to Bermuda to study the water table there. It was a small class with only seven students on the trip, and we all worked together. In fact, we were together all the time. In the water, on boats, taking and processing samples, in our living quarters. We became quite close. They weren’t just my lab partners; for that week, we were all good friends and co-conspirators on a wonderful adventure.

Adam Brooks ’12
Biochemistry major, Hobart College

Adam Brooks The best lab partner is often not someone you choose, but someone who is chosen for you. Last summer, I was partnered with Kristen Kush ’12 on chemistry research. We had been in the same courses but didn’t know each other well. In the lab, we quickly noticed that we share a similar taste in music, and it wasn’t long before we were able to predict what the other needed. Throughout the summer, we ate meals together and shared lab jokes, and this academic year, we worked together on nearly every homework and problem set. I don’t know what I would do without my lab-partner-turned-close-friend.


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