Tristian Evans


Over the years, two desires have remained with professor Phillip Pelphrey—his love for the field of chemistry and his desire to serve his country.


In addition to being an assistant professor of chemistry at Wesleyan, Pelphrey has recently become an intelligence officer for the U.S. Navy Reserve.


“It was always a strong desire of mine to serve the country in whatever capacity I could,” Pelphrey said. “So I’m definitely happy that the time has come.”


Born in Virginia, Pelphrey said he developed a love for chemistry the moment he stepped into his first chemistry class in high school.


“I had a really excellent high school [chemistry] teacher. I just really loved it,” Pelphrey said.


He said being raised by two parents who worked for the government and having a grandfather who was in the military, he grew up knowing the importance of giving back to his country.


Pelphrey attended a military high school in South Carolina. He said he would have gone into the military after high school, but chose to finish his education first.


“To get a Ph.D. in chemistry and try and do full time military stuff is very difficult. They both have a lot of demands,” Pelphrey said.


After getting his bachelor’s, Pelphrey attended the University of Florida for his graduate studies, and then attended Dartmouth College for his Ph.D. After that he spent two years doing research at the University of Buffalo, and eventually made his way to Texas Wesleyan.


When he moved to Texas he decided to try and join the military.


“It’s not as simple as saying ‘I want to [join the military]’ I think a lot of people have that mentality that if you say ‘I want to be in the Naval orArmy Reserves’ it’s a done deal,” Pelphrey said.


“If you’re in the support side of things, it’s actually very competitive.”


Pelphrey said the process took two and a half years. He said it’s like any other job interview—you submit your resume, you are interviewed, and you submit letters of recommendation.


All of this information is sent to a board who reviews all the applicants.


“They called me up and said with [the] science background [I] have, the Navy [was] looking for an intelligence officer with that particular skill set,” Pelphrey said.


Pelphrey found out in December that he had been selected. He was officially commissioned as an Intelligence Officer this month.


Pelphrey said right now his paperwork is still being processed, so he has not gotten his schedule just yet.


Pelphrey said a lot of his training will be through distance learning.


The option was open for him to spend eight months getting all of his training done, but it would require him to take a leave of absence from Texas Wesleyan—something he did not want to do.


This summer, he will spend two weeks in Rhode Island at a Navy school, learning the formalities, customs and traditions of the Navy. Once he meets all of their training requirements he will start getting in-depth projects.


Pelphrey said he expects his job will include gathering intelligence dealing with national and domestic threats and advising his commanders on how to proceed to dealing with such threats.


“That’s kind of what the intelligence officer does for the military,” Pelphrey said.


Pelphrey said what he loves most about Texas Wesleyan is his daily interaction with students.


“I think the students here are great,” Pelphrey said. “Sometimes it’s a struggle in the classroom just as much for me as it is for the students, but we’re trying to meet the same goals.”


Pelphrey admires that although it sometimes gets tough, his students still show up.


“When I see students who it doesn’t come natural for them, and they really have to dig down and work hard, it’s very rewarding,” Pelphrey said.


Jose Ontiveros, senior bio-chemistry major, said he enjoys the enthusiasm Pelphrey brings to his class.


“He is very passionate about what he does,” Ontiveros said.


Angie Dickens, senior bio-chemistry and criminal justice major, said she enjoys Pelphrey’s ability to get students excited about chemistry.


“He tries to keep it interesting,” Dickens said.