Tonya Peeples, Ph.D.,

Professor, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, College of Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Associate Dean for Diversity and Outreach, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA


Tonya Peeples is Associate Dean for Diversity and Outreach in the UI College of Engineering and Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Dr. Peeples researches biochemical engineering and is a member of the UI Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing coordinating committee for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant in biotechnology. Her group applies an understanding of biological systems to engineer stability in enzyme and cell systems in green chemical process applications. Current activities involve the characterization of adaptation of fungal and archaeal systems to extreme conditions and the elucidation of three dimensional architecture and gene expression in environmental biofilms using fluorescence and RAMAN spectroscopy. The Peeples group is adept at designing reactor systems for the cultivation of fastidious organisms. Specific areas of expertise are in the application of biological systems in interfacial catalysis for oxidative conversions in complex molecules.  

Dr. Peeples obtained her B. S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. After post-doctoral study at the California Institute of Technology, she joined the UI as an assistant professor in 1995. In her 20 years of advancing as an academician she has served to advance diversity and to develop faculty skills in mentoring diverse students in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Peeples is a member of the Advisory Board for the SE Regional STEM Hub and works within that board to increase STEM access and awareness in Eastern Iowa. She has received several awards for research, teaching, and service to the local state and national STEM communities, including the Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award for the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, Outstanding Service Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Minority Affairs Committee, the Collegiate Service Award from the UI CoE, the Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service, and the UI Diversity Catalyst Award. She is currently an Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering fellow. In 2015, she is the recipient of the Diversity Pioneers Award from the AIChE. She and her husband are balancing life and work as they raise two children in Coralville, IA.