posted May 10, 2010

Science-Education Consortium Honors Graham Peaslee

Dr. Graham Peaslee of the Hope College faculty has received one of two 2010 "Janet Andersen Lecture Awards" from the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science.

The award includes an invitation to speak during one of the consortium's fall Undergraduate Research Symposia on a topic of the recipient's expertise.  The award is intended to honor faculty who have vigorous research programs involving undergraduates, who are exceptional mentors for undergraduate research students, who are engaged and skilled teachers, or who create interdisciplinary research opportunities for undergraduate students.  Recipients are chosen based on nominations from colleagues.

Established in 2008, the award is named for former Hope College faculty member Dr. Janet Andersen, a professor of mathematics who died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in November 2005.  Andersen had also served as director of the consortium for the five years before her death.

Peaslee, who has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1994, maintains an active interdisciplinary research program involving undergraduate students.  He is currently chair of the department of chemistry, and holds a split appointment between chemistry and geological and environmental sciences.  He and Dr. Paul DeYoung of the Hope physics faculty have collaborated to run the college's Nuclear Group for the past 16 years.  Between them, they have mentored more than 100 research students and produced more than 60 research publications associated with the group.

Peaslee has also applied his training as a nuclear chemist to research focused on the Lake Macatawa Watershed since the late 1990s.  He edited the 2008 book "An Environmental History of The Lake Macatawa Watershed," which was co-authored by area high school teachers Carl Van Faasen and Jennifer Soukhome, who spent multiple summers working with Peaslee from 2004 through 2007.  In 2009, he, Soukhome, Van Faasen and 2007 Hope graduate William Statema, a former student researcher, co-authored the lab manual "Watershed Investigations:  12 Labs for High School Students."  The Macatawa Watershed Project presented Peaslee with its 2005 "Stakeholder of the Year" award for his active involvement in improving water quality and educating the community about the Macatawa Watershed.

He teaches courses including general chemistry; physical chemistry; earth environmental systems; and advanced environmental geochemistry; as well as general-education courses in the atmosphere and environmental change, and chemistry. In 2000, the college's graduating class presented him with the 36th annual "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award.

Peaslee has led more than 40 educational workshops and given more than 100 public presentations since 1994, including the seminar "New Applications of Nuclear Science to Address Environmental and Forensic Questions" during the college's Winter Happening in January.  He is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, and has been active on campus and nationally in promoting undergraduate education, research and science in general.

He has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for more than $3.4 million in external grants since joining the faculty.  He was a visiting scientist in the Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., during 2007-08, and at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., during 2000-01.

Prior to joining the Hope faculty, Peaslee was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at MSU. He was also a post-doctoral fellow in the Nuclear Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

He completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1981 at Princeton University, and his doctorate in general physics in 1987 at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

His wife, Dr. Catherine Mader, is a professor of physics at Hope.