I bought my first pocket protector in 2001 from the American Chemical Society, of which I am member. I greatly admired it and found a company, berda.com, that prepares custom pocket protectors. I designed and ordered 1,000 for our chemistry/biochemistry department at USM. I then designed and ordered 100 for the Pojman Research Group, bearing the motto: Ad Maiorem Poimanorum Gloriam, which translates “For the Greater Glory of the Pojmans.”

I started collecting seriously in 2004, purchasing pocket protectors on eBay. My collection survived Hurricane Katrina. Although our house in New Orleans had 7 feet of water, the collection was on an upper floor. During our exile in Baton Rouge, I spent part of every day searching for pocket protectors. Last year I created the webseum, scanning the entire collection, which numbers 545.

My favorite pocket protector is one made from alligator skin that I had custom made. Other favorites are ones from NASA because I worked on NASA-funded research for many years and supervised an experiment on the International Space Station. What is most interesting is that pocket protectors appear to be a uniquely American contribution to fashion. I have yet to meet anyone outside the US who has heard of them, let alone seen one. I do have a NAPA auto parts pocket protector in Japanese. I once wore a Hilti (maker of drills and chemical anchors) pocket protector to a Hilti facility in Germany. My hosts thought it was some new type of name badge that was given to visitors and had never heard of a pocket protector. Apparently, mine was from the US division of the company.

Some people have suggested that pocket protectors encourage a stereotype of science as a male profession. My students have no such reaction since they have not seen pocket protectors before, and find them quaint and a bit odd.

Everyone needs a hobby, and I relish flaunting my status as a “nerd.” I have always loved science and am proud to be a scientist. Using a pocket protector lets people know that I am a nerd and proud of it! ¤