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Peter Dorhout

Peter Dorhout

Vice president/research | Kansas State University | Class of 1985

If friends were looking for Peter Dorhout in the '80s, they knew the first three places to check. 

“If I wasn’t in Murphy’s or Taco John’s, I was in Noyes Lab," says a chemistry professor and vice president of research at Kansas State. "As an undergraduate chemistry major, I enjoyed the camaraderie of the students and faculty in the School of Chemical Sciences in Noyes Lab, where I learned how to be a scientist, a team member and a leader from some of the very best in the world.

“It was hard but exciting work at the same time, to learn the fundamentals of chemistry and to be at the cutting edge of exploratory research. Faculty in chemistry embraced hands-on learning, particularly learning from failures — and I had some spectacular failures.

“I remember faculty such as Steve Zumdahl, who saw potential in someone who was operating below his potential, connected me with undergraduate research, co-op learning experiences at DuPont, and ultimately inspired me to strive to become a great teacher and faculty member.

"John Shapley, Walter Klemperer and Ken Suslick all challenged me with exciting lab projects that formed my love of research and who ultimately propelled me into graduate school in search of a Ph.D.

“Noyes Lab was my academic home, like it was to so many great Illinois chemists who preceded me and so many others who followed. The cool autumn sights and smells of gingko trees anywhere in the world remind me of my morning walks to Noyes — you denizens of the northeast corner of the Quad know exactly what I mean.

"That gaping maw of an entryway on the Quad has welcomed thousands of students, faculty and staff into its magnificent hallways since 1902; Noyes has been the academic home to 28 presidents of the American Chemical Society — myself included.

“There is tremendous value in the education I received as part of a land-grant research university. At 150 years strong, that tradition of research excellence, grounded in the practical aspects of solving global problems that improve people’s lives, made my education at Illinois even more meaningful.

"It has formed my views on higher education in the U.S. and created in me a champion of that land-grant mission: education for the general populace that provides access to excellence and a pathway to prosperity.”