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By Janie Har
Photos by Bruce Ely
& Jim Harrison
N ot yet 21, Reed College graduating senior JJ Miranda has already published one solo research paper in biochemistry and wowed his professors as a future giant among scientists.

Even more impressive than Miranda’s ability to analyze hemoglobins is his ferocious zest for learning, a trait that he credits Reed for cultivating in its students.

“When I first stepped on this campus, I was barely a biochemistry student. I was really just a kid who knew how to perform a specialized set of experiments,” he says.

“When I leave Reed, however, I can probably call myself a scientist with a straight face.”

President Steven Koblik emphasized how special Reedies are at the college’s 93rd commencement May 14. He asked the 265 bachelor’s degree candidates and two master’s degree candidates to take their imagination, challenging questions and work habits out into the world.

“Be an activist. Be a thought-ful activist,” said Koblik, as audience members shivered in their seats and rain splashed on the large tent.

Thoughtfulness is something Miranda—who won one of Reed’s “Class of 1921 Awards” for creativity, initiative and spontaneity—has in bushels. He rarely stops asking why, how, what if.JJ Miranda

“JJ’s transcended any sort of goal I’ve seen in a person at this stage of his career,” says Arthur Glasfeld, chemistry professor and Miranda’s thesis adviser. “It’s a joy to see his unfettered pleasure in doing scholarly research for the sake of scholarship.”

Miranda bats away such praise, saying that most students at Reed share his inquisitiveness.

He chose a career in science because it would allow him to exercise that curiosity, but with practical results. He plans to study proteins and nucleic acids at the atomic level and figure out how cells function in the body.

For his senior thesis Miranda analyzed how hemoglobins ferret away carcinogens. He dreamed up the questions, devised the methodology and collected material from around the country.

“This is unusual—out of all the fantastic things he’s achieved—he’s set up an independent research idea from scratch,” Glasfeld says.

Miranda ended up at Reed College because an adviser told him to go where he could surround himself with serious learners.

At first, his parents were reluctant to send him to Portland. They wanted him close to home in the San Francisco Bay Area. And they had never heard of the school.
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