ARTIST AND SCIENTIST
A land grant ideal
Peter Oduor is a playwright, a pianist, a poet, an actor, a painter and a geologist, a father of four, soon to be five, a husband, a son, all at once and in harmony, with joy.
Oduor credits his multifaceted life to several things, his willingness to try new things, especially things that other people warned him are difficult, like physics, his undergraduate degree in an honors program, and the British curriculum of the Kenyan educational system. Arts, debate, and theater were central to that curriculum; also dance festivals, the sciences, African folk tales and the classics of English literature.
After his undergraduate studies at Egerton University in Kenya, Oduor received his Master of Science in geology from Bowling Green University in Ohio and his Ph.D. in geological engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla).
He brings to his teaching and research at NDSU passion and commitment and a powerful belief that the arts belong in the sciences. “I tell all my students take theater classes, take a theater practicum. They learn things there that they can’t learn anywhere else. It’s where physics really comes to life. They learn to communicate the essence of something important, to manage sound, lighting and space. Really a play is science and art together in one space for the purpose of communicating important ideas. Putting a play together borrows from all the hallmarks of science.”
His own experience with theater involves all of these dimensions and even a stint as a television soap opera actor in Kenya. His religious murals are award winning.
He educates cartographers, educators, and water quality scientists. His own research centers on water purification and conservation; and geological mapping. His office décor is spiritedly catholic, a statue of the Virgin Mary sits on his desk, a picture of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a crucifix, a statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and a pin that reads, “I’m Spatial.” He is painting with oils these days, partly because he says, “I tried acrylics, but they are too easy.”
Oduor is at home at NDSU because as a land grant academic and research institution it asks students to study a broad-based curriculum. “Those general education requirements mean that my students are learning a sense of everything and most importantly they are learning to communicate intrapersonally and interpersonally in ways that will allow them to have professional impact on the world, and good rich lives.”
— Carol Kapaun Ratchenski
Left to right:
Chemistry lab, 1893-1894
"sweeney todd," 2014
Kappa Psi (Pharmaceutical Fraternity) singalong, 1962