Dr. Holly Bevsek, Arts ’89, teaches at the Citadel.
Her students march across the quad with M-14s slung over their shoulders. In her class they hunker down to learn chemistry.
Bevsek is chair of the chemistry department at one of the nation’s most prestigious military colleges. Students abide by a strict honor code that forbids cheating. They live in “barracks” (dorms) and wear uniforms to class. Bevsek is one of three female department chairs at the college, which didn’t admit women students until 1995.
Her interest in chemistry skyrocketed during a quantum chemistry class at Marquette with Dr. David Schrader. He helped her see her potential beyond the bench. “I was horrified of public speaking before that class,” Bevsek admits. “The chemistry stuff didn’t scare me. It was the life stuff.”
A few oral presentations helped Bevsek gain confidence. She earned
a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and also met her husband, a fellow physical chemist. “Our job hunt was awful,” Bevsek laughs.
After stops at the University of California, Berkeley to study with a Nobel laureate and at Michigan State, the couple completed their cross-country tour when both landed jobs at the Citadel. In the lab Bevsek researches the reactions between mineral dust in simulant soil from Mars and trace gases in the atmosphere around Mars. She also teaches. One of Bevsek’s favorite classes is junior-level physical chemistry, which she describes as “a happy blend of physics, calculus and chemistry.” — Jessie Bazan, Comm ’14