William C. Deese

2010 Helen M. Free Award Winner

William C. Deese, the T.W. Ray Johnson Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana Tech University, began his involvement in public outreach in 1985 when he performed his first scientific demonstration presentation for a group of school children. Since then, his outreach programs have gone on to include presentations full of exciting demonstrations that incorporate the history of science, juggling and unique methods of performance art, music and multi-media. Deese has presented before tens of thousands of school children and university students. In addition, he has led chemistry demonstration programs at local and national meetings of science teachers, multiplying his impact by the thousands.

For his creative technique in presenting chemistry to the public, commitment to performing outreach and dedication to educating students of all ages, Deese was awarded the Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach in 2010.

Deese earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas (1976) and his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Arkansas (1982). He began his professional career at Louisiana Tech University in the fall of 1981, and since 1989 has directed over 20 externally-funded professional development programs for science teachers. Also in 1989, Deese and a group of chemistry teachers from northern Louisiana formed the Dead Chemists Society, founded to excite students about the amazing world in which they live through inspiring and engaging approaches to science education.

In addition to his live presentations at schools around the country, Deese has also made numerous appearances on television. For two and a half years and over 130 episodes on KTVE’s “The AM Show,” Deese presented a regular science segment that reached audiences across northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and western Mississippi. Deese was also a part of the Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) series “Teacher to Teacher: Reaching for Results” which featured master teachers performing lessons that were broadcast on the station and recorded for PBS affiliates.

Deese currently serves as an outreach partner for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) magnet program at Ruston High School in Ruston, La., where he regularly visits as a guest lecturer, program presenter and STEM recruiter. He continues to perform demonstrations for students and the public.

Deese’s work has been featured in the Journal of Chemical Education, the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, the Journal of College Science Teaching, The Science Teacher, CHEM 13 News, and numerous additional publications. His works on evaporation and vapor pressure were even used in the electronic encyclopedia Microsoft Encarta in 2000.

For his work and effective teaching style, Deese has won numerous awards over the years, including the University Senate Chair Award (1991) and F.J. Taylor Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award (1996) from Louisiana Tech University and the William Craig Outstanding University Educator Award (2001) from the Louisiana Science Teachers Association.