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Clarkson Students Line Up Before Dawn To Ensure Spot In Popular Professor's Class

It is 5:30 a.m. Outside it is still dark. Inside the Science Center building on the Clarkson University campus students Peploski studentscrowd a narrow hallway. Some are half asleep on the floor. Others lean against the walls. It looks like a scene outside a box office before tickets for a rock concert go on sale.

Jim has an amazing talent of turning complicated scientific theories into tangible ideas students can understand, said Clarkson Provost Tony Collins. "He makes chemistry exciting, and his own enthusiasm for the subject is so infectious that the students really respond."

Peploski's career at Clarkson has been shaped by his conviction that as a university professor his first priority is a commitment to his students.

My job is to help each of my students reach their fullest potential, said Peploski. "I want my students to gain an appreciation, maybe even a love, of the subject that is so exciting for me."

Peploski's forensic chemistry class is a team-focused introductory laboratory for freshmen chemistry, chemical engineering and bio-molecular science majors that examines the fundamental chemical principles underlying modern forensic investigative techniques. Like characters in the popular television program "CSI," the students investigate chemical and physical methods for finding fingerprint residues, use fluorescent dyes to locate palm prints on glassware, and learn methods for identifying suspected bloodstains on fabric.

He has had a long association with Clarkson, as a student and as a faculty member. He received his undergraduate degree from Clarkson in 1985 and stayed on to complete a doctoral degree in physical chemistry in 1990. Following a year away as a postdoctoral research associate, he returned to Clarkson in 1992.

Peploski was the recipient of last year's Clarkson University Distinguished Teaching Award. Other awards include the Outstanding New Teacher Award sponsored by the Clarkson University Committee for the Improvement of Teaching; the Outstanding Teacher Award sponsored by the Clarkson University Student Association in 1994; a distinguished teaching certificate from the Office of the President in 1996; the Phalanx Commendable Service Award in 2000; and a Phalanx Commendable Leadership Award in 2002.

Photo caption: Students line up before dawn to sign up for Clarkson Professor of Chemistry Jim Peploski's forensic chemistry class. The course is so popular students wait hours outside Peploski's office to secure a spot in the class.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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