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Aggie Physicist to Present 'Last Lecture' April 2

Thursday, Mar. 27, 2008

USU physics professor David Peak

USU physics professor David Peak was selected by students as this year's Last Lecture speaker. His April 2 talk is open to all.

Utah State University’s Honors Program announces the selection of David Peak, professor of physics, as the 33rd annual Last Lecture Series speaker. Peak presents “Complexity and the New Academy: They Put My Office Where?” Wednesday, April 2, at 12:30 p.m., in the Taggart Student Center Stevenson Ballroom. His talk is free and open to all.

Peak has been a professor of physics at USU since 1996 and served as assistant department head for ten years. During his tenure at USU he has taught 16 different courses, ten of which he introduced into the curriculum. His classes include Pathways to Knowledge, Physics of Complexity, Chaos Under Control, Physics of Living Systems and Science, Art and Music. Peak was named the College of Science’s Teacher of the Year in 2003, Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year in 2005 and Faculty Advisor of the Year in 2008.
Honors Program student selection committee members said Peak was chosen because of his dedication to student learning. “I always looked forward to attending David Peak’s Modern Physics class,” says Jennifer Albretsen, committee member and Goldwater Scholar. “As an engaging ad effective instructor, he teaches quantum mechanics and general relativity in a way that students understand and enjoy. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder or learned more in any other class.”
After their initial interview with Peak, the committee, composed of Honors students Albretsen, Sarah Isert, Joshua Pineault and Cameron Salony, was impressed with the professor’s eagerness to give the lecture and his timely lecture topic.
“Dr. Peak prepared his entire presentation prior to our selection interview and unfolded his intriguing topic right before our eyes at our first meeting,” Pineault says.
A longtime advocate for undergraduate research, Peak has mentored the research of 13 undergraduates and seven graduate students. He was a founding member of the National Council on Undergraduate Research and chair of the board of directors on the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research. Peak’s research collaborations with students were recognized by the 1996 American Physical Society Prize for Research Done with Undergraduates. He has mentored one Rhodes Scholar and seven Goldwater Scholars at USU. In addition, Peak is a longtime mentor of USU’s Microgravity Research Team, formerly known as the Get-Away Special team, which sends student-built experiments into space.
This past year, Peak and his wife, USU professor Terry Peak, established the Peak Prize, an endowment to support the university’s annual Undergraduate Researcher of the Year awards.
“Dr. Peak is a gifted teacher who has made a lasting impact on Utah State University,” says Christie Fox, Honors Program director. “His approach towards teaching and stretching students beyond their comfort zones exemplifies the ideals of the Honors Program. His lecture will no doubt be tremendous; I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Focused entirely on students, the annual Last Lecture series is a unique tradition at USU, Fox says. Nominated by students, lecture speakers are full professors who have made a memorable impact on students inside and outside the classroom.
Related links:
Contact: Christie Fox [], 435-797-3940
Writer: Cameron Salony [], 801-814-5337

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