Peru, Nebraska – Peru State College Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Dennis Welsh, was named the College’s 2018 Teaching Excellence Award winner. Welsh was honored during the College’s commencement on May 5.
Dan Hanson, president of Peru State College, presented the award to Welsh, saying, “Dr. Welsh has a passion for students and for his discipline. He invests time with each student to learn their talents and help them realize their potential.”
Hanson continues, “One current student stated, ‘From his contagious laughter, to the passion he has for not only science, but also his students, you can’t help being drawn to him. It is this passion for students that makes him such an exceptional educator.'”
Drawing on the advice of mentors in his own life, Welsh spoke to the graduates, saying,”I would like to give you some humble advice: make a plan. Have a simple plan. Life is simple, have a simple plan.”
“Do something you like. Have a vision. Another reason to get up in the morning. Go to bed at night and know you did a good thing today.”
His advice culminated with a charge for the graduates, “Go out, have a mission, commitment, teamwork and most importantly love in your life. You’re going to make some mistakes out there. That’s the vision, [you can] change the vision.”
“If you’re willing to make changes and you have great love for what you do and the people around you, you know what, life is going to be pretty good. It is going to be exciting. It might even be . . .”
And then Welsh created a small, contained explosion on stage. The implication was that with all those ingredients, life would be explosive.
Welsh joined the Peru State College faculty in 2001. He teaches courses in chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.
Welsh was the lead in developing the biochemistry option under the Natural Science Major in 2005. This option included new courses in biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology. This spring, 14 students graduated with the biochemistry option.
Welsh was also instrumental in bringing the Rural Health Opportunities Program to Peru State. He continues to oversee the cooperative program giving students the opportunity for pre-admissions into health care programs.
Other on-campus duties include serving on the Academics and Curriculum Committee where he was twice chair, the Assessment Committee, the Distinguished Speaker Series Committee, the General Education Committee, the HLC Steering (accreditation) Committee, the President’s Steering Committee and the Teacher Education Committee. Welsh has also served as chair of the Faculty Senate and will again in the 2018-2019 school year.
Dr. Welsh and a group of students organized the first Mole Day Magic Show at Peru State in 2002. This annual celebration of chemistry continues to spread excitement for science at Peru State. He also performs chemical “magic” shows for many groups including admissions visits, various school groups and community events. He has been providing these chemistry demonstrations since 2001 to more than 2500 area students.
Welsh’s other community activities include serving as Head Judge at the Greater Nebraska Science Fair for the past decade, instructing a high ability learners’ class for Auburn Public Schools, and serving as the Radiation Safety Officer for the Nemaha County Emergency Management Team. He has also been a guest speaker for various schools and community organizations.
His research interests are in the function of lipid membranes and their integral proteins. Welsh’s current research project focus is on the lipid and enzymatic activities of parasites in water buffalo. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Gul Ahmad.
Welsh told B103 that student research “lets the students understand how to learn science in an active way, not just from textbooks. When you get to the laboratory and you do the work for yourself, you really understand and appreciate how science functions.”
Welsh’s publications include articles in the reviewed journals of Journal of Biochemistry, Methods of Molecular Biology and the Journal of Parasitology. He reviews articles in the Journal of Lipid Chemistry. He has also written multiple manuals, procedural papers, analysis papers, etc. for the laboratories and courses he oversees.
Welsh earned a Bachelor of Arts at Benedictine College before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame.
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