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In Memory of Jean-Claude Bradley

14 May

My friend Jean-Claude Bradley was a dreamer. To lose him is a nightmare, a tragedy ….

My friend JC Bradley - leader, evangelist and practitioner of Open Science...to the max.

My friend JC Bradley – leader, evangelist and practitioner of Open Science…to the max.

When I received the sad news that JC had passed I went into the sad, dark place that losing family and friends sends me. And I went there fast. As we age we all need to face the challenge of increasing loss around us..it is inevitable. And in recent years it is with increasing frequency. In two weeks time I turn fifty years old and for sure I am more conscious of my time on this planet than ever. My priorities have shifted over the years to more balance between life and work, WAY more quality time with the people I love and especially to my twin boys (while they still want me around!) and yet I am still driven to leave my mark in my domain of science. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to glorious…but I would like it to be catalytic and, hopefully, important. And someone pointing at it with a “Tony was involved with that”…will make me happy. Likely for less than a generation…but nevertheless. We should all be pointing at JC and LISTING the “JC was involved with that…”. I believe it would make him happy.

JC Bradley did something important. He did something catalytic. Actually he did a lot that was important and catalytic. And even though he has gone he will not be forgotten by his peers, his collaborators and his followers for a long time. And I believe his legacy will survive and flourish. JC was, for me, and many others, the father of Open Notebook Science. Fortunately he is remembered in this way on Wikipedia as coining the term.

I first met JC as a PhD student while I was at Ottawa University. I used to run 2D NMR for him in the days when walk-up 2DNMR wasn’t available….300MHz XL-300 Varian instrument. The good old days. We used to spread out spectra on the floor of my apartment and assigned data. Many a long night. Even then it was clear JC was a character…an interesting character. Driven. Focused. Serious..about his science. With a laugh for all the right reasons.

I lost track of JC until he got to Drexel but since we reconnected we have spent many, many long hours on phone calls, worked on many projects together for the sake of Open Science, and I have sat and laughed and visited the many trials and tribulations of openness with JC and people including Cameron Neylon, Andy Lang and many others. JC was driven, he was humble, he was a doer. He challenged the status quo with the spirit of a change agent but without the arrogance and brutality of some in the world of openness in chemistry.

I am not going to belabor the contributions he has made to Open Science. Many others will do that in the next few days. I will do it in presentations and in my writings for sure. His legacy will live on. For now I am going to grieve the loss of an evangelist, a driven practitioner in the world of Open Science, a humble man and my friend.

He traveled the world of Second Life while here  and wherever he is now, and I am making no judgments of peoples views of where that might be, I hope Horace Moody, the cat JC was in Second Life, is purring somewhere. In my head he is smiling, he is purring and he is proud. He should be. As Mays tells us….it is a calamity not to dream…and JC did….

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.” -Benjamin E. Mays (American educator, Clergyman, 1895-1984)-

 

About tony

Antony (Tony) J. Williams received his BSc in 1985 from the University of Liverpool (UK) and PhD in 1988 from the University of London (UK). His PhD research interests were in studying the effects of high pressure on molecular motions within lubricant related systems using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. He moved to Ottawa, Canada to work for the National Research Council performing fundamental research on the electron paramagnetic resonance of radicals trapped in single crystals. Following his postdoctoral position he became the NMR Facility Manager for Ottawa University. Tony joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York as their NMR Technology Leader. He led the laboratory to develop quality control across multiple spectroscopy labs and helped establish walk-up laboratories providing NMR, LC-MS and other forms of spectroscopy to hundreds of chemists across multiple sites. This included the delivery of spectroscopic data to the desktop, automated processing and his initial interests in computer-assisted structure elucidation (CASE) systems. He also worked with a team to develop the worlds’ first web-based LIMS system, WIMS, capable of allowing chemical structure searching and spectral display. With his developing cheminformatic skills and passion for data management he left corporate America to join a small start-up company working out of Toronto, Canada. He joined ACD/Labs as their NMR Product Manager and various roles, including Chief Science Officer, during his 10 years with the company. His responsibilities included managing over 50 products at one time prior to developing a product management team, managing sales, marketing, technical support and technical services. ACD/Labs was one of Canada’s Fast 50 Tech Companies, and Forbes Fast 500 companies in 2001. His primary passions during his tenure with ACD/Labs was the continued adoption of web-based technologies and developing automated structure verification and elucidation platforms. While at ACD/Labs he suggested the possibility of developing a public resource for chemists attempting to integrate internet available chemical data. He finally pursued this vision with some close friends as a hobby project in the evenings and the result was the ChemSpider database (www.chemspider.com). Even while running out of a basement on hand built servers the website developed a large community following that eventually culminated in the acquisition of the website by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Tony joined the organization, together with some of the other ChemSpider team, and became their Vice President of Strategic Development. At RSC he continued to develop cheminformatics tools, specifically ChemSpider, and was the technical lead for the chemistry aspects of the Open PHACTS project (http://www.openphacts.org), a project focused on the delivery of open data, open source and open systems to support the pharmaceutical sciences. He was also the technical lead for the UK National Chemical Database Service (http://cds.rsc.org/) and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project (http://www.pharma-sea.eu/) attempting to identify novel natural products from the ocean. He left RSC in 2015 to become a Computational Chemist in the National Center of Computational Toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency where he is bringing his skills to bear working with a team on the delivery of a new software architecture for the management and delivery of data, algorithms and visualization tools. The “Chemistry Dashboard” was released on April 1st, no fooling, at https://comptox.epa.gov, and provides access to over 700,000 chemicals, experimental and predicted properties and a developing link network to support the environmental sciences. Tony remains passionate about computer-assisted structure elucidation and verification approaches and continues to publish in this area. He is also passionate about teaching scientists to benefit from the developing array of social networking tools for scientists and is known as the ChemConnector on the networks. Over the years he has had adjunct roles at a number of institutions and presently enjoys working with scientists at both UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is widely published with over 200 papers and book chapters and was the recipient of the Jim Gray Award for eScience in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the North Carolina ACS Distinguished Speaker Award.

15 Responses to In Memory of Jean-Claude Bradley

  1. Sean Ekins

    May 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Thank you Tony for a beautiful remembrance. My memories of JC are far too brief but he went out of his way to offer ideas. He was a real pleasure to talk too and when asked if he would contribute to a project it was always on the condition that it was free, open and accessible to others. I think he was a pioneer, years ahead as an educator, a liberator of science and advocate for collaborations.
    I wished I could have told him how much of an influence he has had. Perhaps we need to remember him by thanking those around us that have impacted our thinking, careers, and made us what we are.

     
  2. Chemjobber

    May 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Very sorry for your loss.

     
  3. DrZZ

    May 16, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Does anyone know of any memorials and/or charities suggested for donations in his memory?

     
    • Shanthi Bradley

      May 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Hello All:

      Just wanted to briefly mention that I will be setting up something like a charity and make arrangements for his blogs to be taken over, as he loved his work very much and he cared immensely for his students. His work was his life. I’ll keep you posted ASAP as I am trying to go through this. Thank you all for your condolences.

      Shanthi Bradley
      (wife)

       
      • Andrew Lang

        May 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

        Hi Shanthi. Please feel free to contact me. asidlang(at)gmail(dot)com Andy

         
  4. Tony Yuan

    May 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Just returned from oversea travel, and completely shocked by this news. Very sorry losing another big player in our field.

     
  5. Joe Salvino

    May 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I just heard about JC and extend my deepest sympathies. What a great guy and to leave us at such an early age. It’s very sad.

     
  6. Jenn Stringer

    May 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    JC was a part of the Frye Leadership class of 2006. We just heard the news and we are filled with sadness.

    We would like to find a place to donate to memorialize him. We were unable to find anymore information about that. Can someone please let me know? email is jstringer@berkeley.edu.

     

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