About the Donors

Drs. David and Terry Peak have been members of the Utah State faculty for more than a quarter of a century, and in that time their impact on undergraduate education has been immense. New York natives, the Peaks have a deep love of Utah’s wild places and cultural heritage, but above all they value the human potential of the students who come to study here, and they have devoted considerable time, attention, and resources to cultivating excellence in USU’s undergraduate programs.

As a physicist, David Peak’s research focuses on computation in natural systems, and he is the author of Chaos Under Control: The Art and Science of Complexity, a textbook that introduces students to chaos theory, fractals, and the connection between theoretical physics and the arts. He has published more than sixty peer-reviewed journal articles on topics ranging from nuclear instrumentation to cellular physics, and received numerous professional accolades, including the Carnegie Foundation’s Utah Professor recognition and a research prize from the American Physical Society. In 2018, he was recognized by the Council of Undergraduate Research and Goldwater Foundation with the Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award. He has also won almost every major teaching and mentoring award at USU, including University Faculty Advisor of the Year, Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for the College of Science, and Teacher of the Year for the College of Science.

Terry, a professor of Social Work and director of USU’s Social Work program since 2003, is the 2018 winner of the Center for Women and Gender Lifetime Achievement Award, and the author of almost thirty refereed journal articles as well as numerous book reviews and policy reports on the network of relationships between age, gender, health, and patterns of abusive behavior. Terry has mentored numerous doctoral, master’s level, and undergraduate students through the challenging process of human-subjects research. Terry was recognized as the 2007 Robins Faculty Advisor of the Year and the Faculty Advisor of the Year for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In 2007, the Peaks established the Outstanding Undergraduate Research award, recognizing the university’s top undergraduate researcher each year. In January of 2017, the Peaks created a larger endowment to fund two additional awards, honoring the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year and the Joyce Kinkead Honors Thesis of the Year Prize. These contributions have allowed USU to highlight and reward the hard work that students and faculty put into research every year.

In underwriting the Summer Research Fellows program for 2019 and continuing it in 2020 and 2021, David and Terry aim to support and encourage USU undergraduate researchers to reach for high attainment in their fields of study, apply for (and win!) prestigious national scholarships, and inspire other students to set similarly high goals. They also hope that their generosity will lead to other donors joining in their advocacy and support for undergraduate researchers at USU. We in the Office of Research are deeply appreciative of their energy and creativity in mentoring undergraduate research.