LVC Chemistry Professors Enjoy Family Time and Research in Hungary

Lebanon Valley College chemistry professors Dora and Timothy Peelen pose for a photo in Hungary.

For two LVC chemistry professors, traveling to Hungary fulfills two goals: explore the sights with family and research.

Dr. Timothy Peelen, associate professor of chemistry, his wife, Dr. Dora Peelen, an adjunct professor of chemistry, and their children traveled to Hungary this summer to visit with family, exercise, explore, and do research with fellow scientists.

Dora was born and raised in Hungary and still has family there. The Peelens try to visit every two to three years.

“We want our kids to be familiar with Hungary and its culture,” both Peelens said.

The Peelens aspire for their children to know the Hungarian traditions and maybe even become bilingual. The culture is quite different in Hungary.

“The people are more warm and welcoming,” Timothy said. "They make good connections and get to know you. Eating is more than nourishment because the Hungarian people like to talk about what they are eating. In America, a meal with conversation all about food is rare.”

On the academic side of the trip, Lebanon Valley College receives grant money from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for international research. Timothy often accompanies students for part of the trip to Budapest where the research for the grant is done.

“The grant gave science students international experience,” Timothy said. “For the idea that scientists need to collaborate internationally for the advancement of science.”

Two students from LVC and two students from other colleges stay with professors while conducting research.

“I would like to get the grant renewed if possible, but the grant is expensive and international travel is hard,” Timothy said.

The grant itself lasts for a three-year period.

When Timothy was not in Budapest with the students, he spent the other half of the trip with his family. Timothy and his son biked around the 130-mile Lake Balaton. It took three days to complete the trip but it gave the pair the opportunity to see the unique landscape.

“The landscape is different because you can look around and see sunflower fields and vineyards,” Timothy said.

In the U.S., seeing large fields of sunflowers and large vineyards is not common, especially for LVC students.

The Peelens enjoyed their travel to Hungary–filled with sunflowers, vineyards, bike rides and research. But America, they say, is their home.


-Kurt Harnish for La Vie