Faculty couples thrive as co-workers

Parth Parikh| Staff. Chemistry professor Michaela Stefan first met her husband, fellow faculty member Michael Biewer, at her faculty interview in 2007

As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, two married couples at UTD have found themselves in a unique position to work together.

One couple who found each other at UTD are chemistry professors Michael Biewer and Michaela Stefan. To say that these two love chemistry would be an understatement. Both associate professors can be found in their labs while they are not teaching their graduate and undergraduate classes.

Biewer has been at UTD since 1997 and first met Stefan at the faculty interview when she applied in 2007. After she had joined the department, they got to know each other and started dating soon after and were married by 2008.

Their first date was at the opera as Stefan is an avid opera fan and it was Biewer’s first. Biewer is a baseball aficionado and follows the Cincinnati Reds, and Stefan joked about how she has tried to follow baseball but still has not been able to. She is a cat lover and recounted how impressed she was that her husband fully supported her whenever she wanted to adopt a cat, as he had never had a cat before.

While Biewer is a ‘meat and potatoes’ type of guy, Stefan has more European tastes such as home cooked Romanian meals and French food. Biewer and Stefan both talked about their differences, which strongly complement each other’s personality and work ethic, and this translates into their research on the projects they collaborate on together.

“If he has a strength, it complements my weakness. We complement each other in all aspects, and that’s why we work so well together,” Stefan said.

They work together, collaborate on projects and even joke about who the better organic chemist is between the two of them. On most days, they can be found working with their students together.

“We work together in the lab especially in the summer, and the students really enjoy it,” Stefan said.

Stefan, an engineer with a polymer science and chemistry background, and Biewer who has extensive background in organic chemistry, said they both enjoy the unique academic setting they work in with a professional environment that is conducive to both.

Clint Peinhardt and Anne Dutia are another married couple whose romance brought them to UTD. Their story took them through different career paths, countries, states and religions and did not stop them from marrying after meeting more than 17 years ago.

Peinhardt, an assistant political science professor, and Dutia, undergraduate pre-law advisor and Moot Court coach, are married with two daughters ages eight and 11.

They met as undergraduate students at Birmingham-Southern College, a liberal arts school in Alabama where they were friends, and kept in touch with each other as they both went on to different graduate schools.

Peinhardt moved to the Netherlands for his master’s degree and Dutia went off to law school. They reconnected again when he moved back to Birmingham to work at his alma mater. A work -related email lead to a cup of coffee and the couple started dating.

He continued working at the college for another year as the relationship blossomed. Dutia moved to Michigan where Peinhardt started and completed his Ph.D. in political science. When Peinhardt received a job offer at UTD, both said they wondered how it would work as Dutia had found a very good job in Michigan in the education field.

“The Provost’s office at UTD was good to us and soon after I joined, they made an offer for Anne to come on aboard as the pre-law advisor,” Peinhardt said.

The couple had very different upbringings. Dutia was brought up as a Zoroastrian from the Parsi community in eastern India, while Peinhardt was brought up as a Methodist in Birmingham.

Peinhardt recollected fondly about the time Dutia made a lasagna, which he did not expect to be spicy, and how he is now able to handle spices well. Despite coming from different cultures though, the couple focuses on their similarities rather than their differences.

“We have the same values, whether it is religion that gets you to your values or be it reason, having the same values is the most important thing,” Dutia said.

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