Last modified: Thursday, March 30, 2006
Dennis G. Peters
2006 W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service
Herman T. Briscoe Professor
Department of Chemistry
College of Arts and Sciences
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1962
B.S., California Institute of Technology, 1958
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1962
For Dennis Peters, service to Indiana University is so intertwined with his commitment to students, he is widely considered the "heart and soul" of the chemistry department.
Since he came to IU as a chemistry instructor in 1962 and throughout his career, Peters has demonstrated a rare passion for his subject and dedication to his students. Throughout the years, he has developed curricular materials, served as the department's graduate advisor, was a mentor for MAT degree candidates, and held various officer positions with university, state, national, and international organizations. While he was an assistant professor, he became departmental graduate adviser and director of graduate studies in one year, recruiting the largest incoming class of graduate students in the department's history. When he stepped aside and moved to the undergraduate program, two faculty members had to be named to replace him.
Although he was eligible for retirement several years ago, Peters chose to remain on the faculty, maintaining a productive, internationally known research program in electrochemistry.
"He is unquestionably the heart and soul of the Chemistry Department when it comes to matters of teaching and service," says Jack Crandall, professor emeritus of the IU Bloomington Department of Chemistry. "Rare is the student who does not vividly recall the excitement of learning about the intricacies of chemistry in his class. Dennis has inspired many undergraduates to go on to further work in chemistry, to focus on chemistry as a major and, in a considerable number of circumstances, to follow this up with graduate work. His graduate students have almost always followed his lead in becoming excellent teaching assistants and a disproportionate number have gone on to academic careers," Crandall says.
For more than 20 years, Peters has directed the chemistry component of IU's Advanced College Project, offering college-level chemistry courses to outstanding high school students. With three colleagues, he created I-ACT (Indiana Alliance of Chemistry Teachers) in 1987, an organization whose mission is to advance chemistry education in Indiana high schools.
"Dennis has served Indiana University tirelessly and enthusiastically in a multitude of ways for many years, and he continues to do so," says David Clemmer, Robert and Marjorie Mann Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Chemistry.
Peters is a prolific researcher who has more than 160 publications in top scientific journals. He has been an active participant in the American Chemical Society; the Society of Sigma Xi; the Indiana Academy of Sciences; and the Electrochemical Society, for which he has served as chair of the division of organic and biological electrochemistry. He was also the faculty advisor for 12 years for the Epsilon chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, the national chemistry fraternity.
He has received numerous awards and honors, including being named to the Who's Who Among America's Teachers publication in 2002 and 2004; eight teaching awards from IU, including the IU Trustees' Teaching Excellence Recognition Award in 1997, 1999, and 2000; the Henry B. Linford Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Electrochemical Society in 2002; and the James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry in 2001 from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society.
"Dennis Peters is the embodiment of the best of chemical education which emanates from the classroom and spreads throughout the university, the community, the state, and beyond," says Crandall. "He is greatly appreciated and admired by all who work with him for his exemplary dedication and the incredible energy and insight he brings to his craft."