Emeritus professor remembered for commitment to physics, love of learning

Media Credit: Photo Courtesy of Bill Briscoe

Roger Peverley, an emeritus professor, wears his academic robes from the University of Cambridge. Peverley died this month.

Roger Peverley was committed to his physics research and educating others on the topic, members of the physics department said.

Peverley, a professor emeritus of physics, died on Feb. 6. A sign honoring him stands in the entrance to Rice Hall.

Peverley, born in 1938, was a physics professor at GW for 29 years and earned the title of emeritus professor when he retired in 2006. He researched condensed matter throughout his physics career, but took interest in all parts of physics and taught courses spanning the entire curriculum at GW, faculty members said.

Peverley also served as a deputy chair of the department throughout his career starting in the 1980s.

William Briscoe, the chair of the physics department, said Peverley was his modern physics instructor when he was an undergraduate student at Catholic University, where Peverley was a faculty member before coming to GW in 1977.

“It was amazing that years later, when I arrived at GW, he was my mentor as a young professor and saw me through the first few years,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said Peverley was always curious about his research and enjoyed sharing his thoughts with physics students and faculty.

“Roger was always the inquisitive type. He wondered about everything and loved to give interesting seminars,” Briscoe said.

Peverley was born in Derby, England. He received his bachelor’s of arts and Ph.D. from Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge, according to his page on the department of physics’ website. His wife, Hien Thi Nguyen, died before him.

Peverley continued experimental research on electron-phonon interactions in solids during his time at GW with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.

After retiring, Peverley endowed an award called the Peverley Prize for an undergraduate with the best research project, which the department will continue to award in his honor, Briscoe said.

“He loved to come each year to judge the competition, to award the prize and personally hand the check to the student,” Briscoe said.

Donald Lehman, an emeritus professor of physics who served as the department’s chair for some of Peverley’s tenure at the University, said Peverley truly cared about the students and taught everything from physics courses for non-science majors to graduate-level courses.

“It was this deep understanding that allowed him to teach across the full spectrum of courses offered in the department,” Lehman said.

Lehman added that Peverley was always willing to take on extra work, like organizing students’ evaluations of professors.

William Parke, a professor emeritus of physics, said he remembered Peverley volunteering his nights to conduct astronomy observational sessions on the roof of Ross Hall.

“He was known as a quintessential gentleman, highly respected and admired by his students and colleagues,” Parke said in an email.

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