David Peak, professor of physics at Utah State University, has been selected as the 2018 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5000 for the awardee’s research program and/or undergraduate researchers, will be presented at the Biennial Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, on July 1–3.
Selected from 10 finalists, Peak was recognized for his achievements as a research leader, as well as a productive scholar, teacher, mentor, and adviser to 33 undergraduates who have received 36 Goldwater scholarships and honorable mentions. A cofounder of the CUR Physics and Astronomy Division, he also was an early leader of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and established an endowment at Utah State University to support undergraduate researchers and honor outstanding faculty mentors. Peak’s honors include the 2009 Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
“The foundation is pleased to partner with CUR to celebrate faculty mentors who have helped their students achieve one of the most prized awards an undergraduate majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics can achieve---a Goldwater scholarship or honorable mention,” said John Mateja, president of the Goldwater Foundation. “David Peak is an exceptional undergraduate research mentor, his educational leadership at the national level is longstanding, and he sets a high standard to which all of us should aspire.”
Said CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambos, “As an outstanding physicist, teacher-scholar, and highly effective mentor, David Peak has nurtured the careers of hundreds of students through activities such as his scholarship 'boot camp.' His wider contributions to undergraduate research programs at Utah State University, as well as the Council on Undergraduate Research, mark him as a foremost innovator within the undergraduate research movement.”
Said USU President Noelle Cockett, “Utah State University is thrilled David Peak is receiving this well-deserved national honor. Professor Peak has tirelessly mentored undergraduate researchers throughout the university and guided them in successfully competing for prestigious national scholarships and recognition. He epitomizes the aims of our land-grant mission in providing world-class learning opportunities for our students.”
Said Peak, “I established a boot camp for training Goldwater Scholar applicants, in part, because I enjoy interacting with bright, incipient scientists and engineers. But, as a land-grant university professor, I also feel I should assist my state’s citizens to gain equal access to opportunities available at better-known, more expensive, universities. Accordingly, many of my boot campers are first-generation college students from rural, agricultural backgrounds. Many initially have no idea what a creative and scholarly career might entail. My passion is to light in them the fire to pursue such a life.”
Council on Undergraduate Research: The Council on Undergraduate Research supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. More than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.
Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation: By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is helping to ensure that the United States is producing the number of highly qualified professionals needed by the nation in these critical fields.
Utah State University: Founded in 1888, Utah State University enrolls more than 27,000 students per year in more than 150 undergraduate degree programs and more than 100 graduate programs. Utah State’s undergraduate research program is the second oldest in the nation, after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.