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Press Release for Monday, April 12, 2010

UNF Physics Professor Awarded Terry Presidential Professorship

Joanna Norris, Assistant Director

Department of Media Relations and Events

(904) 620-2102

Dr. Thomas Pekarek, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at the University of North Florida, has been selected as the recipient of the Terry Presidential Professorship.


This professorship was designed in honor of UNF President John Delaney to recognize faculty achievements through the support of outstanding scholars. Pekarek is the second faculty member to be awarded the Terry Presidential Professorship. Dr. Gary Smart, a UNF music professor, was the first recipient and is the current Terry Professor.


"The Terry Professorship quickly has achieved the status of one of the most significant honors conferred upon a UNF faculty member. As a result of his sustained record of first-rate research, Tom has demonstrated that, even among a group of accomplished colleagues, he is distinguished indeed and thus most worthy of this award," said Dr. Mark Workman, UNF provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "I fully expect that the Terry Professorship, in conjunction with the substantial external funding that he has received, will enable Tom to advance his research agenda in a manner that will continue to bring further recognition both to him and to UNF."


Pekarek, an Intracoastal resident, will receive $7,500 for the professorship, which carries a full-term appointment of three years and will be effective the 2010 fall semester. Financial support for this award was established through the generosity of Mary Virginia Terry, a former UNF Foundation Board member and leading local philanthropist.


A UNF faculty member since 1997, Pekarek has been engaged in numerous academic research studies in the area of physics, particularly with magnetic semiconductors. He has received external research grant awards as the sole primary investigator totaling just under $1 million during the course of a decade.


Pekarek has had 38 scholarly articles published and has received several awards, including the Mark Workman Fellow, Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award, Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and the award for 10 years of consecutive sponsored programs funding to name a few.


He has also mentored a number of graduate and undergraduate research students in the course of his UNF career, with several of them receiving honors for outstanding research in physics. As a member of the American Physical Society, Pekarek earned his doctorate and master's degrees in physics from Purdue University. He also received a bachelor's degree in physics as well as mathematics from the University of Wyoming.