Jessica Periago
Jessica Periago

Jessica Periago is a Graduate Teaching Assistant Mentor and one of the Fall 2015 recipients of the Citation for Excellence in Teaching Chemistry.  Periago received the citation for her dedication to the 33 General Chemistry Teaching Assistants with whom she meets on a weekly basis.

Born in Toulon, France, Jessica graduated with a high school diploma in 2006, from the National Institute of Sport and Physical Education located just outside Paris, France— a school that fosters athletes who excel at sports while studying. Her love for basketball took her to competitions in Africa, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, along with several trips to the United States.  In 2007, she earned a scholarship at the Division I level to play women’s basketball at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  At UNL, Jessica exceled both on and off the court, and a number of her achievements are found below.

After graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Jessica enrolled in the Chemistry graduate program and has worked as a TA for several semesters.  Her teaching style is no ordinary one, but is one that she adapts to each student according to his or her needs. Jessica takes on a high-energy approach to her duties and a team-building mentality. "She is invested in not just the program and her job, but genuinely wants to help us," Tessa Andrews, a first-year graduate student TA said.

Jessica ensures that her TAs understand what they are teaching. She wants them to be dedicated so that they too can be organized and deliver a world-class teaching experience to their students. “I put my heart and soul into teaching,” Jessica said, “I want students to have a valuable experience.”

Although this award was unexpected, she feels humbled. “It felt good to be recognized for working hard. I am honored.”  

Jason Kautz, Professor of Practice and the Coordinator of General Chemistry, said Periago is responsible, independent, and fosters a sense of unity in the classroom, which is one reason he chose her to be a TA mentor. “We wanted her to bring that same sense of togetherness and team-spirit to our group--she has definitely done that,” Kautz said. Periago delivers a consistent message to our TAs, he said, one that positively reflects the Department of Chemistry’s goals.

Her fascination with how the human body functions led Jessica to pursue an advanced degree in chemistry. “I love learning how stuff works, especially in the body,” Periago said. Jessica plans to defend her Ph.D. in 2018 and then begin a career in the pharmaceutical industry.


  • Earned scholarship at the Division I level to compete for the University of Nebraska Basketball team.
  • Participated in three European Championship with the youth French national team (2004 to 2006)
    • Earned a bronze medal in 2005
  • First-team Academic All Big 12, 2010 and 2011.
  • Eight-time honoree, Big 12 Commissioners Academic Honor Roll.
  • Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Banquet, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. 
  • Appointed Team Game Captain, Nebraska Basketball, 2010 – 2011.
  • Volunteer Mentor, Belmont Elementary School, 2007 – 2011.
  • Volunteer, Husker Connect Mentoring program, 2009 – 2012.