Giving: Spring 2019
Author: PSU Foundation
Posted: June 4, 2019

Beyond the surface 

A recent gift will help scientists analyze wood, concrete and steel—from the inside out. 

DENNIS BEETHAM ’64 and his wife, Janet, donated $690,000 to advance materials science research at PSU. The gift will purchase a specialized CT scanner to enable advanced chemical investigations of structural materials as well as rare art objects.

The scanner will be housed in the campus laboratory of Tami Lasseter Clare, a renowned chemist in the field of art conservation. Clare was recently funded by the Mellon Foundation to establish the Pacific Northwestern Consortium for the Science of Cultural Heritage Conservation at PSU. Her laboratory utilizes some of the most specialized spectrometry and imaging equipment in the world.

“The scanner will help us see the insides of objects without cutting into them or breaking them apart,” says Clare, “and we’ll be able to see tiny details like cracks and corrosion, which may foretell problems or give us hints on how to prevent catastrophic damage.

“It’s hard to say exactly what we will learn, because we’re going to discover things that we couldn’t have ever seen before.”

With a 1,300-pound sample capacity, the sophisticated instrument will be only the second of its kind in use in the United States, and the first on the West Coast. The tool will advance the work of PSU researchers in several academic areas—from structural engineering to materials science.

The Beethams are thrilled to support this work. Dennis is the founder of DB Western, a chemical engineering corporation headquartered in Oregon. He and Janet, who attended PSU as an undergraduate, are longtime supporters of PSU. 

“As a chemist and engineer, I understand the importance of top-tier analysis to research,” says Beetham. “Janet and I are excited to see what this new equipment can and will make possible.”

Caption: Student Trine Parsons (right) works with chemistry professor Tami Lasseter Clare on art conservation projects. Parsons impressed philanthropists Janet and Dennis Beetham with her keynote talk at the 2018 Simon Benson Awards Dinner.