Peter Dorhout named vice president for research, sets sustainable development research goals


Peter Dorhout has been named vice president for research at Iowa State.

Jill Even

Peter Dorhout was named vice president for research (VPR) for Iowa State after the selection process resumed in August. Dorhout is currently serving as a VPR and chemistry professor for Kansas State University, but will begin his work for Iowa State on Jan. 25, 2021.

Dorhout is familiar with the Iowa State community; he had a postdoctoral position with the U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory in 1989.

“When I heard that the [VPR] opportunity was available, I thought ‘wow that would be kind of a nice homecoming,’” he said.

Dorhout said he plans on getting more familiar with Iowa State professors, faculty and operations run within the first 90 days of his tenure by listening to student, staff and faculty concerns and input.

After settling into his role, he said he plans to strengthen ties between faculty research and technology transfer. He also wants to continue evaluating and improving the service of the Office of the Vice President for Research Operations to better serve faculty, staff and students around research.

He said communicating the value of research to all the stakeholders in the university is of utmost importance.

“Stakeholders at Iowa State are the students, the future students, the families in the state of Iowa, legislatures who want to see that the university is being a good steward of the taxpayer dollars,” Dorhout said.

He said one of his strengths was convening talents at the university to tackle global challenges through research. These global challenges include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically ensuring people have access to higher education, food, clean energy and a clean environment in the future.

“It’s what the students today are worried about, students of the future are worried about. There’s clearly talent at the university that can bring solutions to those challenges,” he said.

Dorhout explained that his network at Kansas State University did overlap with that of Iowa State’s, but he also has been growing his professional career for years. Dorhout got his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for Kansas State University before becoming VPR.

Dorhout said one of the reasons he applied for VPR at Iowa State was to reconnect with the university, Ames Laboratory and the chemistry department as well as to work for a land grant university.

He and his wife, Carolyn, are also creative people. Dorhout practices woodworking, while his wife quilts. The Ames community has reached out and made connections, and Dorhout said he looks forward to continuing his artistry within the community.