A member of Rogers State University’s men’s basketball team has returned to campus, this time as a member of faculty.
A 2010 graduate from RSU, Mark Peaden was hired last fall as an assistant professor of biology. A walk-on forward from Owasso, he was a member of the inaugural recruiting class for men’s basketball in 2007.
“It was the allure of playing college basketball that drew me to RSU,” Peaden said. “I wasn’t ready to give up the sport. Chasing basketball as a young college student forever changed my life.”
Peaden is a 2005 graduate of Owasso High School. He was named to the Green Country all-star team as a senior and helped the Rams reach the state tournament in 2004-05. Following high school, Peaden enrolled at Oklahoma State University and served as assistant coach for the Stillwater High School boys’ basketball team.
“Transferring to a small regional university opened up so many opportunities. I was immediately placed into a close-knit family setting with teammates from all over the country,” Peaden said. “It was a front row seat to many diverse backgrounds. Being a part of the first-ever team and building a program gave me an incredible sense of pride about being a Hillcat.”
Basketball brought Peaden to Claremore, but his captivation in the classroom led him to become a field biologist. He credits the mentoring of Keith Martin for his success within and beyond the classroom.
“I teach in the same tradition that I was exposed to as a student,” said Martin, dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of Biology. “My goal is to get students out of the classroom and in the field as much as possible. Walking through fields, hiking in the mud and crawling through caves has a way of instilling a love of biology into students.”
While an RSU undergraduate, Peaden formulated and completed an empirically driven research project studying the benthic macro invertebrate population of Oklahoma streams and rivers near industrial parks. Peaden spent the five years immediately following his time at RSU traveling the country as field biologist. During this time, he worked in 37 states living out of his truck and studying all kinds of wildlife on grant funded research projects.
He went on to earn his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Davis, where he conducted postdoctoral research running the Mojave Desert Tortoise head-starting research program in the Mojave Desert.
“Mark is the type of professor you want in your program,” said Martin. “U.C. Davis has a brand of biology that considers the impact of ecology and conservation on a global scale. His exposure to this level of research greatly enriches the classroom environment for our students at RSU.”
Peaden is happy to be back in Claremore and excited by the men’s basketball performance this season.
“Claremore is a completely different place than when I was a student. I am encouraged to see so much development and enthusiasm for the city. I’ve enjoyed attending the young professionals gatherings, riding my bike to work, and attending home games at the Expo Center.”