Bassam Shakhashiri

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Bassam Shakhashiri presenting "Science is Fun" at the 2011 National Science Olympiad.

Bassam Shakhashiri is a professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the author of multiple books of chemical demonstrations.

Early years[edit]

Shakhashiri was born in 1939 in Lebanon to Dr. Zekin A. Shakhashiri of the American University of Beirut and Adma N. Shakhashiri. The family moved to the United States in 1957. Shakhashiri attended Boston University, and then earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Maryland.

National Science Foundation[edit]

Shakhashiri served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Science and Engineering Education from 1984 to 1990. In that position he was credited widely with revitalizing science education programs at NSF. However, his tenure at NSF also was marked by controversy owing to a confrontational style that was said to offend other Assistant Directors.[1] In 1990 NSF Director Erich Bloch removed Shakhashiri from his post, replacing him with Luther Williams. Shakhashiri's critics claimed that he interfered in the normal merit review process at NSF for awarding grants; and, that he introduced a political element into the grant award process.[2]

American Chemical Society President[edit]

He was elected President-Elect of the American Chemical Society in 2011 and became President in January 2012.[3]


Shakhashiri has spent most of his career celebrating the fun of science and giving public demonstrations at schools, fairs and on television. His SCIENCE IS FUN! presentations at shopping malls, schools, and colleges have reached tens of thousands of students, their teachers, and parents throughout Wisconsin. In 1996-97 Dr. Shakhashiri chaired two working groups which reviewed the Wisconsin Science and Math Standards. Dr. Shakhashiri has given about 1000 invited lectures and presentations around the world.

He has published several books of chemistry demonstrations, including Manual for Laboratory Investigations in General Chemistry ; Workbook for General Chemistry; and Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry, Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. His books, television broadcasts, and website have provided the source material for presentations given by hundreds of teachers during National Chemistry Week, as well as regular demonstrations by many teachers throughout the year.


Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Science is Fun: Chem Time and Physics Fun" and "Science is Fun: Colored Flames and Glowing Liquids," Public Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Public Television (2000).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Once Upon A Christmas Cheery In The Lab Of Shakhashiri," Public Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Public Television (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Science is Fun: Sound and Music" and "Science is Fun: Bubbles in the Kitchen," Public Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Public Television (1997).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Science is Fun: Flashing Cash and Instant Ice Cream" and "Science is Fun: Silver Trees and Orange Tornados," Public Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Public Television (1995).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Science is Fun: Flames, Fog and Fountains" and "Science is Fun: Collapsing Cans and Glowing Liquids," Public Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Public Television (1992).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Exhortations for Enhancing the Quality of Science and Technology Education," Materials Research Society Bulletin, Page 7 (July 1992).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry," Vol. 1 (1983); Vol. 2 (1985); Vol. 3 (1989); Vol. 4 (1992); Vol. 5 (2011), University of Wisconsin Press.

Shakhashiri, B.Z., Ucko, D.A. and Schreiner, R. "An Exhibition of Everyday Chemistry: Communicating Chemistry to the Public," J. Chem. Educ., 63, 1081 (1986).

Shakhashiri, B.Z. "Exhortation for Good Teaching," J. Chem. Educ., 63, 777 (1986).


External links[edit]