S. Keith Dunn

S. Keith Dunn

Professor of Chemistry, Provost and Dean of the College


BS, Erskine College; PhD, Indiana University

“I teach physical chemistry—that noblest of all pursuits! I’ve long been fascinated with how things work, why things work, and understanding the driving forces that determine why some processes happen spontaneously while others do not. Physical chemistry provides answers to those questions.

“The universe in which we live is a fascinating place. It seems to be divided into two distinct realms, where the connections between those realms are difficult to uncover. The microscopic realm of objects the size of molecules and atoms (and smaller) is governed by the probabilistic laws of quantum mechanics, where it is literally impossible to determine the outcome of an isolated event. The macroscopic realm, on the other hand, is completely predictable (governed by cause and effect relationships). Physical chemistry reveals the answers as to how a collection of individual particles, governed by probabilistic processes, lead to macroscopic systems whose behavior is predictable, and to some significant degree controllable. How cool is that?!”

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