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Bassam Shakhashiri

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor of Chemistry and the Willian T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea
"Scientist by training, teacher and public servant by trade, advocate by conviction, optimist by nature." That is the way Bassam Z. Shakhashiri describes himself. As Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Shakhashiri finds outlets for all four attributes, to which he might add a fifth: entertainer by avocation. Dr. Shakhashiri, as a matter of fact, is probably best known to the public at large for his annual program, "Once Upon a Christmas Cheery, In the Lab of Shakhashiri," seen on television throughout the country. The science-oriented entertainment show has played to packed houses at such varied places as UW-Madison, the National Academy of Sciences and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the halls of the U.S. Congress, and Boston's Museum of Science. A one-hour show as well as two half-hour shows are featured year-round on PBS and on other cable stations. The Christmas Lecture, which is in the tradition of the great British scientist Michael Faraday who presented a total of 19 series, is only one example of Dr. Shakhashiri's attachment to hands-on science. In 2019, he presented his 50th Christmas Lecture.