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Professor of Chemistry Earns Faculty Excellence Distinguished Professor Award

By Kurt Aldag
December 10, 2008

Dennis N. Chasteen
Dennis N. Chasteen (Photo by Lisa Nugent, UNH Photo Services)

They don't call him 'iron man' for nothing.

Dennis Chasteen first earned the nickname as one of the world's reigning experts on ferritins and transferrins, the proteins that store and transport iron in mammals and marine life. Chasteen also achieved 'iron man' status as one of the longest tenured professors at UNH and as one of the nation's longest-running recipients of federal funding for research. Chasteen has received funding from the National Institutes of Health every year since arriving at UNH in 1972.

'I've always asked myself,' says the soft-spoken, calm-mannered Chasteen, reflecting on his record of professional success, 'what are the important questions that I can help answer—not what questions can I answer with the equipment I have in my lab.'

In addition to world-class research, the former Fulbright Scholar, Waite Professor, Lyle Professor, and, most recently, Carpenter Professor has taught more than 3,000 general, physical, and bioinorganic chemistry students in his 36 years at UNH.

'I wanted to teach chemistry from the time I was in high school,' says Chasteen. 'Then I got to grad school and saw that running a research program in addition to teaching chemistry would be even better. UNH gave me that opportunity.'

Retiring from teaching in the summer of 2008, Chasteen will no longer deliver lectures in an 'iron man' costume, as he had been known to do on Halloween. Nor will he tell students scuba diving stories that illustrate the principles of physical chemistry, such as his brush with an electric ray, only to discover its powerful shock. Chasteen will still be found, however, in his state-of-the-art lab researching ferritins and transferrins.

Says colleague Tom Laue, professor of molecular, cellular, and biomedical chemistry, 'Denny Chasteen is the sort of person who brings prestige to an award, rather than deriving prestige from it.'


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