Dr. Laurence I. Peterson

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Professor of Chemistry

Office: Prillaman Hall #3141

Phone: (770) 794-7753

e-mail: lpeterso@kennesaw.edu






Ph.D. Chemistry (Yale University)

BS Chemistry (Duke University)

Professional Experience

Earned doctoral degree in the field of organic chemistry working under the well-known photochemist, Professor Gary Griffin. Under his guidance, using photochemistry, for my dissertation problem synthesized and characterized the previously unknown highly reactive non-benzenoid C8H8 hydrocarbon tetramethylenecyclobutane.

Upon graduation, accepted a position as Research Chemist with The Dow Chemical Company where over ten U.S patents were obtained and after five years promoted to Lab Director of Dow's Eastern Research Laboratory, their long-range basic research lab located in Boston. Following my Dow experience, took position as Research Director and Business Development Manager at Rohm & Haas, later became Vice President for Research & Development in North America for BASF and subsequently a Vice President for Celanese Corporation responsible for the Celanese Research Company and their long-range basic research.

After leaving corporate America, started up two successful companies, Vista Business Systems, an IBM PC dealership and The Venture Group, Ltd, a merger & acquisition firm. In 1994, began my academic career upon appointment as Department Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry at South Dakota State University. In 1997, came to Kennesaw State University as Dean of the College of Science & Mathematics and Professor of Chemistry before stepping down in June 2010 after 13 years to return to the classroom to teach General Chemistry to first-year students once again.


 I am enjoying my return to the classroom and am teaching large enrollment sections of CHEM 1151 (General, Organic & Biological Chemistry), the introductory chemistry course for health science majors.   I am delighted to once again have the opportunity to facilitate student learning and prepare our graduates for science-based careers.  However, like all teachers seeking optimum results, I am excited about introducing new technology capable of motivating students to maximize their potential, showing them how to understand the subject matter through active learning, demonstrating the benefits of hard work and finally showing them the need to acquire new skills that have value in the workplace. 

My goal is to help students realize their personal and professional dreams through success in the classroom, facilitate learning the critical thinking skills necessary for success later in life and bring chemistry to life in a way they understand how science  impacts their everyday life.  My dream is to be remembered by some of my students as the professor who most contributed to their personal and professional success following graduation.

Prior to coming to KSU, as Department Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry at South Dakota State University, every semester for three years, I taught a large enrollment course of General Chemistry for science, engineering, pharmacy and nursing majors to over 230 students/class with a high student success rate.

At Kennesaw State University, with $166,000 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation, I was the principal investigator involved in the development of curriculum materials using case studies for teaching the second semester of CHEM 1212 (General Chemistry), the chemistry course required for science, mathematics and engineering majors. Team-taught this course entirely based upon case studies from ChemCases.com curriculum materials that were recognized in 2004 by the Scientific American Magazine as one of the Top 50 Science and Technology websites in the world.

In initial years as Dean, team-taught sections of KSU 1101 (Freshman Experience), a course developed at KSU to assist first-year students in adjusting to college life, to provide them skills necessary to succeed in college and to increase their retention in our degree programs. Typically, these sections were designed specifically for science majors and offered in conjunction with learning communities such as ones dedicated to students majoring in Computer Science or Information Systems. In such learning communities, students took English Composition, Principles of Computing and the Freshman Experience courses back-to-back on the same days so as to build a sense of community with their fellow classmates.

In 2001, designed a unique course for students in our college, namely, CSIS 4575 (Technology Commercialization) to meet the needs of science majors with an interest in entering the business world. This is an entrepreneurship course designed specifically for students majoring in the degree programs in the College of Science and Mathematics. Although an elective that now has become a standard course offering in the Computer Science and Information Systems department, students from most other degree programs in our college can also take the course as a major elective. Since most new businesses that create jobs and community wealth are technology based, a technology commercialization course is critically important in preparing science graduates to compete and grow in today's society and global economy. Taught this course for three consecutive years before transferring the responsibility to another  faculty member with similar entrepreneurship experience.


ChemCases.com National Science Foundation Project

One of my teaching and scholarship initiatives is a $166,000 project funded at Kennesaw State University by the NSF to develop a new curriculum for the second semester General Chemistry course using case study methodology. Our goal is to make chemistry more interesting and relevant while enhancing student learning by using case studies of familiar chemical products such as Gatorade, Nutrasweet, Olestra, Alcohol and Silicones to teach the important principles of General Chemistry. Our ChemCases.com modules show students how chemical principles and concepts relate to the decision making process in bringing these products to the market place by highlighting product performance in the context of chemical structure, toxicology concerns, environmental or social issues and patent rights. This new curriculum was initially introduced in a CHEM 1212 course at KSU in Spring 1999 and then has been made freely available electronically as web-based modules for use worldwide by the general public as well as by high schools and colleges.

The collection of twelve case studies can be accessed at: http://chemcases.com . Our overall pedagogy, along with suggestions as to how these case studies can be used in conjunction with conventional General Chemistry textbooks, can be viewed at: http://chemcases.com/overview/pedagogy.htm and our newest module featuring alcohol (ethanol), its chemistry and impact on the human body can be seen at: http://chemcases.com/alcohol/index.htm .

CyberTech-ITEST Program for Under-Represented H.S. Students

Cyber-Tech is another initiative at KSU for which I was the Principal Investigator and recipient of a $1.06 million National Science Foundation grant. The program introduced over 600 under-represented high school students to careers in the computing sciences field and prepared them to succeed in college Information Technology and Computing Sciences degree programs. The deliverables from the program were a fully developed curriculum for CyberTech I (Principles of Computing) course that was delivered online to 2nd semester sophomores and CyberTech II, a 75-hour Visual Basic.NET on-campus summer course at KSU. In addition, we developed and implemented the CyberTech Saturday Academy at KSU that engaged students in video game programming in their junior year and an AP Computer Science on-line course delivered directly to their high schools in their senior year.

Professional and Community Service Interests

I am an enthusiastic champion for the use of highly interactive digital text materials in higher education to both reduce the heavy cost burden to our students as well as enhance student learning and increase retention in science and mathematics degree programs. With the wide spread availability of high bandwidth and the recent advent of tablet PCs such as the iPad and ASUS

TF300 using the Android 4 OS, we are presented with a unique opportunity to provide leadership for the introduction of digital text materials in science and mathematics. I am working closely with students, faculty and publishers to encourage and facilitate the introduction of high quality, interactive digital texts that are formatted for tablet PCs as well as conventional PCs.

I have a long-standing interest in fostering science literacy at all educational levels with innovative curriculum development to enhance science learning. Our ChemCases.com program and website described above is a reflection of successful work with this focus providing high quality, relevant digital curriculum materials over the Internet that are used in the K-12 arena as well as in higher education.

Another area of interest has been economic development through linking universities with the business community. I have been actively involved in building relationships with area businesses particularly in the health care and biotechnology areas and the development of unique programs for students in the chemical and biological sciences that will lead directly to high-paying careers in strategically important industries here in Georgia. The college's newest Biomedical Certificate Program in Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Trials is an example of the results of my work and interest in this subject.

Additionally, I have been successful in securing state and industry funding of more than $500,000 for a highly successful SBIR Resource Program here at KSU that educated Georgia's small businesses on the availability and attractiveness of federal SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants for economic development and university collaborations. As a result of the success of KSU's SBIR Resource Program in greatly increasing the annual grant funding to Georgia businesses, in 2002 the College of Science & Mathematics received the prestigious T.E.R.R.I.F.I.C Award from the Georgia Economic Development Association for outstanding achievement in economic development initiatives stemming from a university.

Finally, in winter 2012, while on a leave of absence from the university, I taught high school chemistry in a fishing village in Mexico one day per week under the auspices of the American Chemical Society's Science Coaches program at Colegio Americano de Puerto Vallarta.   The curriculum at this school was in English, however, my goal is to acquire sufficient language skills to teach chemistry in Spanish at a public school in the same village in the near future.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this web page, please Email me at lpeterso@kennesaw.edu


Strategic Takeaways from a College Education for your Professional Career

Top 5 Books to read in your Freshman Year



KSU Chemistry Department Home Page

KSU College of Science and Mathematics Home Page