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James McAfee and Irene Zegar

James McAfee and Irene Zegar
"
Students come to love this place. We take them in, and it becomes home to them."
~ Dr. Irene Zegar, chemistry professor

James McAfee and Irene Zegar have many reasons to be proud of the work they do at Pittsburg State University.

Making advances in groundbreaking cancer cell research, McAfee and Zegar, married chemists who came to PSU in 1997 when they both applied for the same job, have secured multiple scholarships for students and have proudly helped the university with one of its missions: recruiting and retaining diversity.

"It's interesting that a small school in Kansas has so much diversity," said McAfee, a biochemist who has been awarded more than $300,000 in research grants through the National Institutes of Health. "Every university I've been at has been a huge monstrosity where faculty didn't connect with students. I was amazed at how nurturing the environment was here. It's not impersonal - it's like family."

Zegar, a physical chemist who grew up in Palestine before moving back to the United States to attend college, has a special interest in helping international students flourish in science. Both she and McAfee have won PSU's Outstanding Faculty Award, and have become an inspiration to students of all ethnicities for their dedication to finding scientific breakthroughs.

"You need diversity in faculty to get diversity in students, and we may be the most diverse departments on campus," said Zegar, one of several international faculty in the department. "Students come to love this place. We take them in, and it becomes home to them."