Chemistry alumnus Jason Rolland knows importance of philanthropy: Challenges set by alumna for 2023 Giving Day on Feb. 15-16
Department of Chemistry alumni Jason Rolland (B.S. ’01) and Jennifer Rolland (B.S. ’02) know the importance of giving back to their alma mater. The couple, who met during their undergraduate years, are among the many College of Science alumni who are sponsoring challenges for Virginia Tech’s Giving Day, to be held Feb. 15-16.
The Rollands will generously donate $2,000 to the Department of Chemistry if 100 donors make a gift to the Chemistry Annual Fund on Giving Day. In all, 11 challenges from across the college are being sponsored by alumni and friends. The goals focus on the number of people participating in Giving Day by making a monetary donation.
Giving Day donations go to a wide variety of the university’s colleges and programs, benefiting students and faculty from all disciplines, as well as numerous communities that are served by Virginia Tech’s broad outreach and engagement. Last year, 853 Science Hokies, alumni, and friends joined our effort. This year, our goal is more ambitious: we’re hoping to hear from more than 1,000 of our alumni and friends.
“A lot of great things happened to me because I went to Virginia Tech. And a lot of things that I didn’t even realize at the time were great, and it’s such a special place … with outstanding teachers and all kinds of opportunities for students where all you have to do is look around and ask a few questions and you can find yourself with all kinds of amazing opportunities and options. That was my main driver,” said Rolland of why he and his wife made the challenge pledge. “It’s a special place in my heart, both the university and the chemistry department.”
Jason Rolland is senior vice president, materials at Carbon Inc., a Silicon Valley-based digital manufacturing company that uses a rapid 3D printing technology called Digital Light Synthesis, to create products for some of the world’s major brands, from Johnson & Johnson to Adidas. The company’s co-founder is Joseph DeSimone, who earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1990.
One of the most important programs that the Rollands want to support is undergraduate research, something that was pivotal to Jason’s academic successes. Also vital to Rolland was Jim McGrath, a renowned professor in the chemistry department. DeSimone also considered McGrath a mentor.
“In the Department of Chemistry in particular, I think it is such an important and valuable experience for the students,” Rolland said. “I happened to find myself in the lab of Jim McGrath who passed away years ago. … Jim had been at Virginia Tech for a couple decades by that point. He had just built the powerhouse of polymer chemistry at Virginia Tech. He attracted other professors and built this multidisciplinary program across chemistry, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and material science departments.”
The more Rolland learned about polymers, the more he fell in love with the science. “I really liked organic chemistry and was looking for different pathways to that. But then there's this whole material science angle, again, all of this is because of the program that Jim built. I started to learn that by understanding organic chemistry and polymer science fundamentals, there’s all sorts of things you can do with that,” Rolland said.
Rolland said it was McGrath’s wide variety of projects – batteries, adhesives, medical devices, microelectronics, and more that dazzled him. “I thought it was so cool that you could not only do organic chemistry but actually make stuff,” Rolland added. “And then there was this collaborative element to it, where you’re solving problems that are not just chemistry problems because you’re part of a bigger picture.”
Research experiences and mentorship are vital to many College of Science undergraduate and graduate students. The following alumni and friends all were touched in some way by their experiences at Virginia Tech, and that has inspired them to not only give back, but encourage others to do so as well.
The sponsors and challenges by department or program are:
• Dr. Gilbert L. Button (B.S. ’69) will generously donate $5,000 to the Department of Biological Sciences if 115 donors make a gift to the Biological Sciences Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• Jason Rolland (B.S. ’01) and Jennifer Rolland (B.S. ’02) will generously donate $2,000 to the Department of Chemistry if 100 donors make a gift to the Chemistry Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• Kyle Pedrotty (B.S. ’03) will generously donate $2,500 to the Department of Economics if 60 donors make a gift to the Economics Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• An anonymous donor will generously donate $6,000 to the Department of Geosciences and, if 150 donors make a gift to the Geosciences Annual Fund on Giving Day, will donate an additional $2,000 to the department.
• Archana Sathaye (M.S. ’86) and Shirish Sathaye (Engineering M.S. ’86) will generously donate $5,000 to the Department of Mathematics if 50 donors make a gift to the Mathematics Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• John Fernando (B.S. ’89) will generously donate $5,000 to the Department of Physics if 70 donors make a gift to the Physics Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• College of Science Roundtable Advisory Board member Mary Nolen Blackwood (B.S. ’73) and Willis Blackwood (B.S. ’72) will generously donate $5,000 to the Department of Psychology in support of students if 70 donors make a gift to the Psychology Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• Jennifer Van Mullekom (M.S. ’95, Ph.D. ’98) and Bill Van Mullekom (B.S. ’96) will generously donate $5,000 to the Department of Statistics if 65 donors make a gift to the Statistics Annual Fund on Giving Day.
• Once 75 donors have made a gift to the Academy of Data Science or its programs, including Computational Modeling and Data Analytics (CMDA), two generous gifts will be unlocked. Linda Patterson (B.S. ’76) and Wesley Patterson (B.A. ’77) will donate $4,000 to the Academy of Data Science Annual Fund. Additionally, Dean's Roundtable Advisory Board member Mark Scheffel (B.S. ’78) and Nancy Scheffel will donate $10,000 to the CMDA Program.
• Linda Patterson (B.S. ’76) and Wesley Patterson (B.A. ’77) will generously donate $4,000 to the Academy of Integrated Science if 20 donors make a gift to the Academy of Integrated Science Annual Fund or any of the Academy's programs, including Science Technology and Law, on Giving Day.
• College of Science Roundtable Advisory Board member Jeanine Matte (B.S. ’71) will generously donate $10,000 to the School of Neuroscience if 60 donors make a gift to the School of Neuroscience Annual Fund on Giving Day.