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Dr. Petrich received his B.S. in Chemistry, cum laude, from Yale University in 1980 and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from The University of Chicago in 1985. He went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France, with Dr. Jean-Louis Martin. Dr. Petrich joined the Iowa State University faculty as an assistant professor in 1989. The following recognitions have been received by Dr. Petrich in the past few years for his work:
- ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Departmental Leadership, 2009.
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2008.
- Secretary's Honor Award for Enhancing Protection and Safety of the Nation's Agriculture and Food Supply, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washingtion, D.C., June 2004.
- Secretary's Honor Award (2004) for Enhancing Protection and Safety of the Nation's Agriculture and Food Supply and the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Mid-Career Award for Excellence in Research/Artistic Creativity.
- Agricultural Research Services Technology Transfer Award (2003).
- Award Honoring Iowa State University Inventors, April 29, 2002.
- 2002 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for work in Laser Detection in Food Safety, Little Rock, AK, May 8, 2002.
- Recognition of Food Safety Technology by the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa da Vinci Celebration and Conference, February 2001.
- R&D 100 Award, 2000, "Method and System for Detecting Fecal and Ingesta Contamination on the Carcasses of Meat Animals".
- Finsen Award Lectureship, 2000 (Presented by the Association Internationale de Photobiologie and the American Society for Photobiology to an Outstanding Photobiology Researcher).