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Ken Haug '79 chosen as 2009-10 Latterell Visiting Alumnus

Posted by Judy Korn on Monday, Oct. 5, 2009

Ken Haug ’79, associate professor of chemistry at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, is the University of Minnesota, Morris 2009-10 Latterell Visiting Alumnus. He will meet with students and faculty throughout the day on Monday, October 26, 2009. His 5:30 p.m. presentation in the Science Auditorium, “A Pathway into Chemistry,” is free and open to the public. A question and answer session and a reception follow.

A political science, economics, and chemistry major, Haug was a junior when he enrolled in his first chemistry course and “fell into chemistry very deeply.” Today, grateful for his liberal arts education, Haug teaches chemistry and conducts computational physical chemistry research at a college much like Morris. During his public address, he’ll speak about Morris memories, graduate school, teaching, and research.

“I mainly teach physical chemistry and general chemistry,” shares Haug, “but on occasion I also teach a broader liberal arts class on ethics and philosophy in science and society, Unity of the Sciences and Ethical Consequences. My research interest involves computational physical chemistry and, in particular, has recently focused on chemical and physical processes occurring on solid surfaces.”

Jim Togeas, professor of chemistry, describes Ken as “the ultimate liberal artist.” He says, “Ken’s studies not only ranged widely across the curriculum, but took him deeply into many subjects as well. It is not surprising that he considered many career options before deciding on chemistry, which should make ‘A Pathway into Chemistry’ particularly appealing to students making career choices.”

Togeas continues: “Ken’s research area is intriguing. Students of the speed of chemical reactions have long understood that much of the important chemistry takes place on the walls of the vessel containing the chemicals, but probing those 'wall processes' has been a daunting task. However, in recent years, that changed on both the experimental and theoretical fronts. On the theoretical side, where Ken plies his trade, these investigations have been made possible by the development of new models and the dramatic increase in computing power, that is, in the speed at which complicated mathematical operations can be performed and in the amount of information that can be stored.”

A native Minnesotan from rural Renville, Haug earned a doctorate in chemical physics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is excited to return to Morris where he earned his bachelor of arts. “I have such great memories of Morris,” he shares. “The picture I have of UMM is pretty fixed in my mind, and now it will transform!”

Privately funded with gifts from alumni, faculty, staff, and Latterell friends and family, the Joseph J. Latterell Memorial Visiting Alumnus Program provides annual grants to disciplines within the Division of Science and Mathematics to invite alumni to campus to serve as resource persons for students and faculty.

Photo: Ken Haug assists a student with computational physical chemistry project.