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AAPT Member & Physics Community Obituaries
Barbara Lotze, January 17, 2019
Born January 4, 1924 in Mezokovesd, Hungary, Barbara moved to Budapest with her family at the age of ten. In 1956 she was awarded a diploma in applied mathematics with honors from Eötvös Lorand University of Sciences. She fled Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution and spent time in a refugee camp in Austria before receiving a Rockefeller Foundation Grant to enroll as a doctoral candidate in mathematics at Innsbruck University, where she was granted a PhD in mathematics and theoretical physics in 1961. She married her late husband, Dieter Lotze, in 1958, and they immigrated to the United States in 1961, both accepting jobs at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and becoming naturalized citizens in 1967. Lotze was offered an Assistant Professorship in the Physics Department at Allegheny College in 1963, and became a Professor Emeritus of Physics, chair of the department from 1981-1984. She continued teaching until her retirement in 1990.
Since 1963, Lotze has been a member of the American Physical Society (APS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP), the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP), and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). She was a member of the Western Pennsylvania AAPT Section, serving as their Section Representative and Council member for eight years. She has also served on the Committee on Women in Physics Education and as its chairperson. During her tenure on this committee, Lotze organized some of the Association's most noteworthy sessions involving women in physics. In 1986 AAPT honored her with the Distinguished Service Citation and the Certificate of Appreciation for her important contribution to the teaching of physics.
During her career, Lotze presented numerous papers at professional meetings, organized and lectured at symposium. She served as president of the Hungarian Educators' Association, and authored, edited and contributed to multiple publications about physics and the Hungarian Revolution. In 1995, she established, through AAPT, an Endowment for the Advancement of Physics Education in the United States, which grants a stipend to Barbara Lotze Scholarship recipients. She had a passion for teaching and wanted to ensure that AAPT supported students who wanted to be future physics teachers. Though she remained active in research and publication, her primary focus was on her role as an educator.
After the passing of her husband Dieter Lotze, she married her late husband Herbert L. Retcofsky, of South Park, in 1998.
Gregory Paul Puskar, October 23, 2018
Gregory Paul Puskar, 62, of Morgantown, passed away October 23, 2018 at UPMC Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA. He was born July 11, 1956 in Mt. Pleasant, PA a son of the late Joseph A. Puskar and Mercedes Galley Puskar. Greg graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School and WVU with a BS in Physics, an MBA, and was hired immediately by the Department of Physics and Astronomy where he remained for thirty nine years and eventually became the Academic Laboratory Manager for the department. He also was the owner of Envirocheck Inc., where he did environmental testing services. In 1984, he became a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and a life member in 2007 and served on the executive board as chairman of the section representatives and numerous committees. Greg received the Distinguished Service Citation Award in 2006 and was named a Fellow in the association in 2014. He worked passionately to promote effective, safe, and well managed physics laboratory programs and his advice and knowledge was sought by many in the organization. Greg was a founding member of the Moutaineer Chapter of BNI in 2004 and remained an important figurehead until his passing. In his private time, he was an avid reader, enjoyed the New York Times crossword puzzles, collected stamps, liked traveling and following sports, and always had a thirst for learning. He was a member of the St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Star City, WV. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Zubal Puskar, brother in law, John Zubal, many aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends and colleagues. Visitation will be Tuesday, November 20, 2018 from 11-1 p.m. with a memorial celebration of life at 1:00 p.m. at Dering-Henson Funeral Home, 156 Foundry St., Morgantown, WV with Fr. Gary Naegele as celebrant. Donations may be made in Greg's memory at www.aapt.org or AAPT, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Condolences online at www.dering-henson.com Caring services are provided by Dering-Henson Funeral Home.
Richard Daniel Heckathorn, July 1, 2018
Richard Daniel "Dick" Heckathorn, longtime AAPT member active in the PTRA program, passed away on July 1st.
Here is a link to Dick's big website. Of particular interest are the Operation Physics materials.
Donald F. Holcomb, August 9, 2018
Emeritus professor of physics Donald F. Holcomb, who served two terms as chair of the department and championed the cause of improving physics education, died Aug. 9 in his residence at Kendal at Ithaca. He was 92. For the full article see the Cornell Chronicle.
Don was also AAPT President (1987-88) and the 1996 Oersted Medal recipient (Oersted talk). He was associated with the Introductory University Physics Project https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.881388?journalCode=pto along with Jim Stith and John Rigden as PI.
Also see his obituary, Donald F. Holcomb.
Richard Daniel Heckathorn, July 1, 2018
Richard Daniel "Dick" Heckathorn, longtime AAPT member active in the PTRA program, passed away on July 1st.
Here is a link to Dick's big website. Of particular interest are the Operation Physics materials.
John Lawrence Hubisz, March 6, 2018
AAPT joins the North Carolina Section, Texas Section, and the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Physics Department in celebrating the life of professor, Dr. John Lawrence Hubisz of Fuquay Varina, NC, who died peacefully on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Born June 6, 1938 in Salem, MA, Hubisz’s teaching experience began, like many physicists, as a physics lab instructor. He taught at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he also completed his Bachelor of Science in physics and mathematics with honors. He received his M.S. degree from the University of Tennessee and, in 1968 he received his Ph.D. in physics and space science from York University and the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science in Toronto.
After entering physics teaching early in his career, Hubisz taught across North America in Knoxville, Toronto, Texas City, and Raleigh. His colleagues at the College of the Mainland in Texas City, where he spent 22 years of his career, honored his dedication and talent as a teacher by nominating him five times for the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor of the Year Award. Honored for his leadership in the Texas Section with the prestigious Robert N. Little Award for Outstanding Contributions to Physics in Higher Education (1987), Hubisz’s long and impressive record of involvement in the Texas Section provided the impetus and rationale for establishing this new coalition of physics educators in North Carolina.
When Hubisz moved to North Carolina and joined the North Carolina State University Physics Department in 1993, he had a dramatic effect on physics educators in North Carolina. He worked diligently and collegially with officers of the South Atlantic Coast Section of AAPT to separate and establish a new AAPT section in North Carolina.
At NCSU, his research centered on physics education. Along with Professor Gould, he carried out a study of errors in middle school science texts, which was covered by the NY Times, USA Today, and Reader's Digest, in addition to other news media in the U.S. and abroad. In connection with this work, he was interviewed by ABC, CBS, NBC, and the Fox network.
In 1999 the NCS-AAPT established the John L. Hubisz Award to recognize outstanding service to the section. Appropriately, John was the first recipient.
In his retirement he held the titles of Professor Emeritus from College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas where he taught from1970-92. and Visiting Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University.
He joined AAPT on May 1, 1959, becoming president in 2001. His dedication to AAPT includes an extensive list of service on committees and task forces. This service to AAPT and to the Texas and North Carolina AAPT Sections reflects his interest in the physics education of children and his love of history and philosophy of science. He served as the Member-at-Large on the AAPT Executive Board from 1991-94 and is remembered by those on that Executive Board for his thoughtful contributions and his excellent chocolate chip cookies. AAPT honored Hubisz with a Distinguished Service Citation in 1990 and with the AAPT Fellow recognition in 2014.
In remembrance of their friend and colleague AAPT members shared the following:
Tom O'Kuma (past AAPT president and current treasurer):
This is indeed sad news. John was a mentor of mine in my early days. At that time, John was a faculty member at College of the Mainland (COM) in Texas City, Texas (in the Houston area just south of Clear Lake and Johnson Space Center). When he retired from COM, he took a position (mostly adjunct) at North Carolina State University and stayed there for the rest of his career. He helped found the North Carolina Section of AAPT and invited me to come give an invited talk at their inaugural meeting. There are still several folks in Texas who remember John well and spent many happy times with him.
Wolfgang Christian (current AAPT secretary):
The NC AAPT Section would not exist without John. Twenty-five years ago we were part of SACS but the meetings were spread over two states and were poorly attended. John saw an opportunity to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching and he got to work organizing the NC Section. We need more members like John.
Steve Iona (past AAPT president, past AAPT secretary, and past AAPT treasurer):
The nice memorial message about John Hubisz on the mortuary site highlights his life, but it does not do justice to the influence he had at AAPT. John was a valued leader in two AAPT Sections (Texas and North Carolina), and as Wolfgang pointed out, the NC Section would not have existed without John’s efforts. He is one of the few AAPT members to have served as Presidents of two different Sections and as a national President. I don’t know much about John’s time in Canada, but I would not be surprised if he was a leader there too.
John was instrumental in helping develop the Two-Year College community within AAPT and then helped with the Interests of Senior Physicists, but before that it was the History and Philosophy Committee and the Pre-High School Committee. John truly cared about good teaching and preparing good teachers. He did this because he cared about students.
When John became AAPT President, we joked when he wore a suit and tie because at AAPT meetings, we only saw him wearing tee-shirts with physics related messages on them that he wore at school or to his outreach events.
But it was generally the service side of his life that gave John his energy. One aspect of that service was to education. For many years, like other AAPT members, he helped crusade for better physics content in physics textbooks particularly in the K-12 offerings. There was a brief period where John gave hundreds of radio and newspaper interviews about errors in middle school texts. I am sure that his efforts helped incrementally improve the learning experience for students, and we all should say "Thank-you."
But John's service was not just to students, teaching, and learning; John was a deeply religious man. He played a key role through the church in working with married couples and couples who were planning to be married. He visited the sick and cared for many in the congregation. I hope that the sanctuary is filled to overflowing to remember John’s infectious smile, his concern for others, and his life well lived.
Richard Patty (past department chair at NCSU):
I was department head when John joined the department in 1993. He had an exceptionally thoughtful and unique approach to teaching physics and to communicating physics to his students. To the student's benefit, they were required to think more deeply than normal. John, alone, was the driving force behind the creation of the North Carolina section of AAPT.
John was one of the most knowledgeable and organized professors. He maintained an enormous personal library in his home and could answer questions about almost anything. He was quite knowledgeable with boundless energy. John and Jola routinely hosted get-togethers, with Texas chili, following some AAPT meetings.
Joe Heafner (member of the AAPT NC Section):
In addition to being a trusted advisor, John was instrumental in inviting well known speakers to NCS-AAPT meetings. These were the people who profoundly influenced me and affected every classroom decision I ever made. Because of John, I got to meet Arnold Arons at the Spring 2000 NCS-AAPT meeting at Davidson College. John told me that he knew Arons, and at the time I was astounded but later came to realize that John knew practically everyone in physics education. John did something even more important, and that was allow me to contribute book reviews to The Physics Teacher. Having read TPT as an undergraduate and graduate student, I never dreamed that I would someday have anything published in that journal much less become the editor of one of its columns. For that opportunity and privilege, I am forever indebted to John Hubisz.
John W. Layman, December 30, 2017
John Layman was born August 22, 1933. He was a congenial colleague and a good friend to thousands of educators, students and neighbors. He was an exemplary physics teacher, and a well-respected mentor, faculty member and community leader throughout his long career.
Graduating from Park College, John began his career as a high school physics teacher in the Kansas City schools. Upon completing his doctorate at Oklahoma State University, he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland (UMD) with appointments in Physics and Education. He believed every student could learn science through inquiry, experience, and engagement. He was an early proponent of Physics Education Research (PER) and an early developer of digital educational and laboratory technologies. His undergraduate and graduate students held him in high esteem, particularly future teachers.
John dedicated many years of his life to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), serving as President, Secretary, and Historian and was often a daily volunteer in the Executive Office. He was recognized with the Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to AAPT in 1978 and with an AAPT Fellow award in 2014. He took great pride in receiving the Melba Phillips Award (1998). He was an active volunteer leader with the American Institute of Physics (AIP) for more than 25 years. John also served as a principal or co-principal investigator on numerous NSF and other federal and state large-scale grants and program awards. He served in senior advisory capacity positions with many agencies, institutions, and associations.
An active patron in the arts and entertainment community, he was a major sponsor of music competitions at UMD in honor of his mother and his wife. He provided substantial financial support for plays and playwrights at Arena Stage in Washington DC. He was a life-long aficionado of opera, and classical music was always playing in his home.
John enjoyed travel and worked with colleagues on six continents often enjoying special and long remembered gastronomic and entertainment events with them. He was pleased to live in the DC area and routinely took advantage of numerous Smithsonian and other programs along the national mall. He enjoyed Sunday drives ranging widely through the local region. He loved to engage children in his neighborhood and built a Grandfather's Science Box for them as an example product for STEM outreach.
John Layman was a well-rounded gentleman and a positive influence on many lives.
Jack Hehn, AAPT Senior Fellow
John is survived by his brother Roger; son John (Cindy), grandson JD (Natasha), great granddaughter Nora, and granddaughter Amanda; son Jeff and grandchildren Ryan and Claire.
A celebration of his life will be held at the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel, Garden Chapel, on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 1pm. In lieu of flowers a memorial donation may be made to AAPT, University of Maryland department of Physics, or your favorite charity.
Paul Doherty, August 17, 2017
Dr. Paul Doherty, physicist and senior scientist at the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco, died peacefully of cancer on August 17th, 2017 at the age of 69. With a deep command of physics, skill in teaching and communicating science, and a generous and enthusiastic spirit, Paul inspired people around the world and was beloved by many. He leaves behind a lasting mark on the Exploratorium, one of the premiere science museums in the world, where he devoted the last 31 years of his life.
Paul was a native of Boston, and graduated summa cum laude from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1970, earning his PhD from MIT in solid-state physics in 1974. He joined the physics faculty of Oakland University in Michigan in 1974, where he taught a wide range of science courses. He left his tenured position at Oakland University to join the Exploratorium in 1986. At the Exploratorium, Paul became co-director of the Teacher Institute in 1990, the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Learning in 1992, and senior staff scientist in 1997. He repeatedly said it was “the best job in the world.”
Paul was unusually knowledgeable about physics and how it relates to observable phenomena, and used this knowledge and his enthusiasm for teaching to fulfill diverse roles at the Exploratorium. His primary activity was development of simple hands-on activities for middle- and high- school science classrooms prompting students to “notice” and interpret what they see. He taught hundreds of workshops for teachers, including intensive Summer Institutes, using such inquiry techniques; there are few science teachers in the Bay Area who have not been touched by Paul’s mentorship. “He loved teachers,” recalled his former co-director, Linda Shore, describing how he helped deepen many teachers’ understanding of physics: “He would stick with you until you got it.” He also performed public webcasts (often from far-flung locations), advised exhibit developers, collaborated with the museum’s artists and writers, created a virtual Exploratorium (the “Splo”) in the online world Second Life, appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, and taught science to Buddhist monks through Science for Monks. Paul received the Faraday Science Communicator award from the NSTA. His approach to education is nicely summarized in the dedication of his most recent book to his professor Paul Tipler, who (explained Paul) “showed me how to inspire students to learn science by making it interesting, relevant, fun, and correct.”
Paul was a prolific author, publishing a wide range of books including Explorabook, The Exploratorium Science Snackbook, the Klutz Book of Magnetic Magic, the Zap book, Glove Compartment Science, Color of Nature, and Traces of Time, and he was a regular columnist for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a contributor to many other publications. Paul’s artistic outlet was playing the “whirly” – a corrugated plastic tube which, when swung overhead, will generate notes in harmonics of one-half of the tube length. Paul won "Best Science Demonstrator" at the World Congress of Museums in Helsinki in 1996 playing the whirly.
Paul was also a world-class outdoor adventurer, with a lifelong love of rock climbing and mountaineering. He climbed the face of El Capitan as well as making the first ascent of a 20,000-foot peak in the Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas in the Andes. Over his years of climbing, he cumulatively completed more than 2 “vertical marathons.”
Paul’s death was a surprise to his friends and family, as his cancer had been previously declared in remission. Paul is survived by his wife of over 40 years, Ellen Henson. A celebration of his life at the Exploratorium on October 6th was titled “A life well-lived” and featured many of Paul’s favorite hands-on activities, and Amazing Grace performed on whirly.
The Paul Doherty Fund, which supports the Exploratorium's Teacher Institute, has been established in his honor. More information about Paul can be found in the linked obituary from KQED. You can learn from Paul posthumously in his Coursera course on Light and Color.
By Stephanie Chasteen
Vernon Ehlers, August 15, 2017
Vernon Ehlers, who represented west Michigan in Congress, died August 15, 2017 at age 83. He served in Congress for 17 years until 2011.
Vern, who held a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, was known for promoting scientific research and efforts to improve math and science education. In 2006, during an interview to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of AAPT, he committed, “My physics education gave me an incredible understanding of our universe, allowing me to understand the interactions between so many things. Also, the analytical training and practice I received during my physics education has been invaluable in my political career.”
Commentary by people who knew and worked with Vern showed a common theme, his love of science and teaching.
Jack Hehn commented, “I learned several lessons working with Vern Ehlers on science and education policy issues in the U S House of Representatives. It was, and is, very important to have scientists in public service and particularly as legislators. Vern believed in working across of the aisle and often encouraged individuals to listen carefully to what an opposing representative had to say. He also urged patience and working toward long-term goals. He introduced several pieces of legislation year after year with the understanding and hope that conditions and opinions of the House would change in favor of his positon with time. Vern would always take time to talk with students and to encourage their interest in science and education even when he was very busy with legislative issues. Several friends would point out that ‘Vern was always a teacher at heart.’”
Warren Hein responded to Vern’s passing by saying, “Dr. Vern Ehlers was a true friend of AAPT and an advocate for science and science education. He was respected by all his congressional colleagues and formed a bi-partisan collaboration with Rush Holt, the other physicist in congress, to promote agreement on issues important to scientists of all disciplines. Ehlers would always take time to meet with the 20-24 students participating in the annual Physics Olympiad Training Camp and, with Holt, helped arrange meeting for these students with their congressional representatives. At these meeting with the IPHO students Ehlers would always encourage them to consider public service at some point during their career because “physicists know how to solve problems.” At one of these meetings with IPHO students Dr. Ehlers received an honorary membership in AAPT.”
Bernie Khoury said, “It took only about a minute after meeting Vern Ehlers to know that he was a born teacher…..okay, maybe he learned the skill, but it was a skill manifested clearly in his demeanor. His was a steady and calming voice. He gesticulated with slow deliberate movements. He listened intently to assure that he understood what you were saying or asking. His response was always reasonable and well targeted. Even if he were not trained as a physicist, Ehlers would have been a good friend of science and of education. Being trained in physics gave him some of the gravitas that strengthened his public policy comments about the value of science and education and research to national welfare. Vern Ehlers’ career was the embodiment of the prototype citizen-scientist. He was a scientist and teacher who volunteered to provide science advice to his local congressman, Gerald Ford, who just happened several decades later to become the U.S. President. If more scientists and teachers followed the Ehlers’ model of reaching out in some constructive way to influence public policy, then our nation would benefit from such efforts, just as the nation was the beneficiary of the efforts of Vern Ehlers: the scientist, who became a teacher, who became an adviser, who became a Congressman.”
Jack Hehn, AAPT Senior Fellow
Warren Hein, AAPT Executive Officer Emeritus
Bernie Khoury, AAPT Executive Officer 1990-2006
Carl O. Clark, August 8, 2017
Carl O. Clark (1936-2017), a trailblazer for African American physicists, passed away on August 8, 2017 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Carl was the first black graduate of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute’s (BPI) rigorous Advanced College Prep course (A-course), and the first black Ph.D. graduate of the University of South Carolina. His work in physics was the study of the electron spin resonance of porphyrins, as well as the initiation of several programs to encourage and prepare minority students for STEM majors.
Carl was a high-school student during the days of segregation at the all-black Dunbar High School in Baltimore when he, along with thirteen other black students, qualified for admission to the all-white, all-male Polytechnic Institute by passing the entrance exam, and acquiring recommendation letters. The year was 1952; two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was illegal. The argument to the Baltimore school board by Thurgood Marshall was that a separate program for blacks could not be constructed with the same rigor and prestige as Polytechnic’s A-course. After entering as a sophomore in 1952, Carl graduated from the BPI A-course in 1955. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics from Morgan State University in 1959, and a master’s degree in physics from Howard University in 1961.
Carl began his career in academia in 1960, when he became the only physics faculty member at South Carolina State University. But through his efforts over the next twenty years, he was able to create a physics major and expand the program to six faculty members while earning the Ph.D. in physics from the University of South Carolina (1976). During the 1980s, Carl became active in both the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and the American Physical Society (APS). For the AAPT, he chaired both the Committee on Physics in Minority Education, and the Nominations Committee, work that earned him the AAPT Distinguished Service Award in 1994. He served on the APS Apker Award Committee, and the APS Committee on Minorities in Physics.
Clark expended a considerable amount of time in improving educational opportunities for the African-American citizens of South Carolina. One of the projects that he directed was a “Project to Revitalize the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in Local Secondary Schools.” He was also the director of separate projects in the 1980s to use the computer as a laboratory instrument, and to use it as a tool for tutoring. Carl’s greatest influence, however, was probably expressed through his directorship of the Kenan Project that brought rising ninth grade students to the SC State campus during the summer to introduce them to math and science, and to prepare them for high school. The Kenan Project, over the years, led to Clark being the Principal Investigator of the South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation (SCAMP) project that brought rising SC State STEM freshmen to campus during the summer to introduce them to research, and to give them a head start on their math and computer science coursework.
Several of the SCAMP African-American students have gone on to earn doctorates in the sciences, and have taken faculty positions at universities throughout the United States. Their achievements are a fitting tribute to Carl Clark’s commitment to science and to the physics profession.
By Daniel M. Smith, Jr.
Robert F. Tinker, June 21, 2017
Robert (“Bob”) F. Tinker, a long-time AAPT member, energetic science educator, and educational entrepreneur, passed away on June 21, 2017. Bob was born December 1, 1941 in Wilmington, DE. After graduating with high honors and double majors in physics and chemistry from Swarthmore, Bob earned a master’s degree in physics from Stanford, but interrupted his graduate education to teach from 1962 to 1964 at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He then went to MIT where he received his Ph.D. in physics, working under John G. King. Later, while teaching at Amherst College, Bob started freelance work with the Technical Education Research Centers in Cambridge, MA. He became Director of the Technology Center and later Chief Science Officer for TERC, where he oversaw growth from six staff members to over 100 full-time employees and expansion of TERC’s efforts from higher education into K-12 education. In the 1970s and 80s Bob became the “patriarch of probeware” with his innovative use of sensors and the newly arrived personal computers. Bob founded the Concord Consortium in 1994 to work on applications of technology for web-based courses, the Virtual High School, and other science teaching innovations. He served as its dynamic and passionate president until 2009.
His long-time colleague at the Concord Consortium, Paul Horwitz, recalled his first encounter with Bob. “January, 1980, somewhere just off Harvard Square. Bob is surrounded by what are called at the time “microcomputers” to distinguish them from refrigerator-size “minicomputers” and room-size “mainframes.” Apples, Sinclairs, and TRS (affectionately, “Trash”) 80s. And children – hordes of them, boys and girls – gathered after school to play with these strange but oddly seductive machines. Pong and Space Invaders yes, but some of them are graphing temperature, running a simulated lemonade stand, trekking out West in a covered wagon, or typing “fd 10 rt 90…” and watching a mechanical turtle obey. Their faces speak volumes; some of them will have to be chased home or they will miss dinner.”
Another colleague, Norman Chonacky, writes “When I first met Bob in the 1970's, he was holed up in the basement of TERC's then headquarters surrounded by circuit boards and his faithful band of young protégés – ‘Tinker's TERCkeys.’ His grammar was electronics but his language was information technology. That is the way I best remember him. He delighted in engaging and working with other people. He clearly understood the value of scientific and educational communities. He consistently chose to collaborate with others, inventing instruments and educational applications that were educationally transformative and whose echoes can still be heard. His career spanned an era of technology emergence, science educational development, and social change that was staggering for those of us who grew up personally in the '50s and professionally in the '60s. Bob embodied all three. He went to the MIT for technology, to the Commission on College Physics for education, and to the South for civil rights.”
As the Concord Consortium wrote in its email notice about Bob’s passing, “Bob's brilliant mind and genuine compassion were remarkable qualities that rarely come in the same person. Bob combined them in singular and inspiring fashion. He continued to serve on our board of directors until his death, sharing his vision for an educational revolution that would make science accessible to all students.”
Norman Chonacky, Yale University
Paul Horwitz, Concord Consortium
Robert Hilborn, AAPT
Mildred S. Dresselhaus, February 20, 2017
Mildred Dresselhaus, an Institute Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at MIT died on February 20, 2017. She began her studies of physics at Hunter College in New York City and Cambridge University in England, and received her Masters Degree at Radcliffe College and her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. She then spent two years at Cornell before moving to MIT Lincoln Laboratories and then becoming a professor at MIT.
Her career reflected her multiple interests and abilities. She conducted important research in such areas as superconductivity, magneto-optics, thermoelectrics, and carbon nanotubes. She was a leader the field of physics education serving as president of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), chair of the governing board of the American Institute for Physics (AIP), Director of the Office of Science of the Department of Energy (DOE), as co-chair of the recent Decadal Study of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics; and as treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences.
As an educator she was a teacher and mentor to numerous MIT undergraduates and graduate students. Throughout her career she has worked to increase the participation of women in physics and engineering and is one of the pioneering leaders in this effort. In 1973 she wrote a grant proposal to the Carnegie Foundation to encourage women's study of traditionally male dominated fields, such as physics. Although her work in this field of physics education has resulted in progress, this is still an unsolved problem and an active area of physics education research.
In addition to her Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014) — the highest award bestowed by the U.S. government upon American civilians — and her National Medal of Science (1990), given to the nation's top scientists, Dresselhaus's extensive honors included the Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by AAPT in 2008, the IEEE Medal of Honor for "leadership and contributions across many fields of science and engineering," the Enrico Fermi Award from the U.S. Department of Energy for her leadership in condensed matter physics, in energy and science policy, in service to the scientific community, and in mentoring women in the sciences; and the prestigious Kavli Prize for her pioneering contributions to the study of phonons, electron-phonon interactions, and thermal transport in nanostructures. She was also an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
Anthony P. French, February 3, 2017
Former AAPT President, Oersted Medalist, and renowned physics educator, Professor Anthony (Tony) P. French, died on 3 February, 2017 in his 97th year. His physics career included work at Los Alamos, NM as a young member of the British mission to the Manhattan Project, a faculty appointment at Cambridge University, emigration to the US, and a long and fruitful career at MIT.
French was born in 1920 in Brighton, England. He completed his early education there and entered Sidney Sussex College of Cambridge University in 1939 just as World War II was beginning. In 1944, two years after finishing his undergraduate work in physics, he was sent to Los Alamos where he investigated nuclear reactions relevant to Edward Teller's vision of a possible "super" bomb. After the war, he obtained his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Cambridge in 1948.
He continued as Demonstrator and Lecturer in Physics at Cambridge until he emigrated to the US in 1955 and joined the physics department at the University of South Carolina. From 1948 to 1958, he authored or co-authored 18 papers dealing with various topics in nuclear physics. He also wrote a textbook Principles of Modern Physics that brought him to the attention of MIT's Jerrold Zacharias.
Zacharias was the initiator of the Physical Sciences Study Committee that produced the now famous PSSC Physics text and workshops that reshaped American high-school physics teaching in the early 1960s. He recruited French to help to extend the PSSC strategies to university-level physics. French redirected his primary concern to physics education and moved to MIT in 1962.
Zacharias' plan did not work out. Instead Tony French became the lead professor teaching and managing the large physics course required of all MIT students. This work motivated him to write his four much admired books Special Relativity, Newtonian Mechanics, Vibrations and Waves, and Introduction to Quantum Physics (with Edwin F. Taylor).
French valued clarity and careful reasoning, and he wrote with a simple direct style to achieve these values. You can see this both in his textbooks and in his writings on the intellectual history of physics and physicists. He was proud of his work as editor of a centenary volume about Einstein in 1979, and as co-editor, with Peter J. Kennedy, of a companion 1985 volume about Niels Bohr. He also applied his sharp intelligence and tact when, in 1993, he led the committee that designed the problems for the XXIV Physics Olympiad.
His work in physics education has received recognition from various directions. In 1976 he received a Distinguished Service Citation from AAPT. In 1980, he was awarded the University Medal of the Charles University, Prague, for contributions to physics education, and in 1988, the Bragg Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics (London) for contributions to the teaching of physics. In 1989, AAPT awarded him the Hans Christian Oersted Medal in recognition of his notable contributions to the teaching of physics. In 1993, AAPT awarded him the Melba Newell Phillips Medal for creative leadership and dedicated service that resulted in exceptional contributions to AAPT.
Shannon O'Leary and Adam Clausen, December 26, 2016
Shannon O'Leary, 39, and Adam Clausen, 37, both physics educators and AAPT members, died in an automobile accident on December 26, 2016. AAPT joins the Oregon section and the Lewis & Clark College physics community in honoring their work on behalf of physics education for the benefit of their many students, colleagues, and friends.
O'Leary was an assistant professor of physics at Lewis & Clark College. She earned her BS from the University of Puget Sound, and her MS and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon before joining the Lewis & Clark Physics Department in the fall of 2011. She joined AAPT in 2015 and regularly shared her work with participants in the AAPT/ALPhA Conferences on Advanced Labs.
She was working to build up an experimental quantum optics laboratory at Lewis & Clark College. With support from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement and a major grant from the National Science Foundation, she was working with Lewis & Clark undergraduate students to study quantum mechanical interactions of laser light with atomic vapor, with an eye towards building a sensitive magnetometer based on these fundamental processes.
Catherine Gunther Kodat, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said of O'Leary: "Shannon was a transformative teacher. She was one of our stars on the science faculty. She was very much admired and looked up to by all of our students, but especially by our women science students."
Clausen attended graduate school at the University of Oregon, where he studied general relativity, in particular model cosmological solutions to Einstein's equations. By examining the behavior of these model universes, scientists gain insight into the behavior of our own universe, where it came from, and where it may be going. He was a visiting professor at Lewis & Clark College for several years, teaching classes at all levels of undergraduate physics, including advanced theoretical courses for physics majors, introductory physics for physics and life-sciences majors, and special topics for a general audience. Clausen taught at four colleges: University of Puget Sound, Lawrence University, University of Portland, and Lewis & Clark College before becoming a technology consultant at Kolisch Hartwell, a law firm specializing in intellectual property, patent and technology law with offices in Portland, Oregon and Palo Alto, California.
Gordon Aubrecht, November 21, 2016
AAPT joins the Southern Ohio Section and The Ohio State University - Marion in honoring the life of professor, Dr. Gordon J. Aubrecht, II. Aubrecht earned his A.B. at Rutgers University in 1965 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1971 and joined AAPT in 1972. He spent two years in research at Ohio State and three years at the Institute of Theoretical Science in the Department of Physics at the University of Oregon. In 1975 he returned to Ohio State, eventually moving to the regional campus in Marion, and then becoming a full professor in 1987. During 1979-80 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institut für Theoretische Physik at Universität Karlsruhe.
He served AAPT in many ways and positions. His resume includes service on the Editorial Board of The Physics Teacher (1984-87). AAPT committee service included: Committee on Professional Concerns, 1984-88 (Chair, 1986-88); Committee on SI Units and Metric Education (1990-2016); Chair, Epstein Prize Subcommittee (Committee on Undergraduate Education, 1991-93). He played a leading role in the Conference on the Teaching of Modern Physics at Fermilab (1986) and its follow-up conference in 1987. He was Secretary of the Working Group on Teaching Modern Physics for the Inter-American Conference on Physics Education in July 1987 and Chair of the Topical Network Group for follow-up on Teaching Modern Physics for that Inter-American Conference (1987-89). He also served on the IEEE Metric Practice Committee (2001-2007); the Committee on International Physics Education (2002-2005); the Inter-American Council Representatives (2002-2005); and the Committee on Teacher Preparation (2015-2016).
Aubrecht was an active Physics Teacher Resource Agent (PTRA), serving at several levels: He assisted in running the PTRA program at Columbus, OH (1986) and in College Park, MD (1986). He was an organizer of the PTRA meeting in San Francisco (1987), and Coordinator for the PTRA program in 1986-87.
In 1986, under the direction of the AAPT Executive Officer, Jack Wilson, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) organized the United States Physics Team for the first time. Aubrecht was a trainer for the first U.S. Physics team for the International Physics Olympics Olympiad.
Aubrecht received the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 1996 and Ohio State’s Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service in 2008. In 2014, as part of the Inaugural Cohort, he received the AAPT Fellow Award.
Aubrecht was a co-founder and incredibly active member of the Southern Ohio Section of AAPT. His service included President for Colleges and Universities (1983-83), President (1984-85), Past President (1985-86), Vice President -TYC (2000-2002), Board Member At Large (2005-2006, 2009-2016) and Treasurer (2006-2009). He was the driving force behind the awarding of special physics prizes (co-sponsored by SOS-AAPT and the Ohio Section of APS) at Ohio’s State Science Day, a practice that began in 1984; for the majority of that time, Aubrecht shouldered the significant responsibility of recruiting and coordinating judges.
Aubrecht was also active in the American Physical Society, the Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio, and the American Association of University Professors. In fact, at the time of his passing, he was the president of The Ohio State University Chapter of the AAUP. He also served as one of the leaders of the Contemporary Physics Education Project, the group that, among other things, developed the particle and nuclear physics charts seen in so many physics departments and classrooms. For many years, Aubrecht was involved in helping high school and middle school science teachers incorporate inquiry-based techniques into their courses. He was working on a book on the subject at the time of his death.
AAPT gratefully recognizes Gordon Aubrecht’s life of service to the physics education community.
Stephen Luzader, June 12, 2016
Dr. Stephen Luzader, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Engineering at Frostburg State University (FSU), Frostburg, MD, passed away June 12, 2016 at Frostburg. The AAPT family has lost a faithful servant and great ambassador of physics and physics education. Steve’s love of physics exuded all around him, unpretentious, unmistakable and inspiring.
Steve earned his B.S. (1966) from West Virginia University, M.S. (1972), and Ph.D. (1979) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He taught at University of Wisconsin, Parkside (1979-1988), and SUNY, Brockport (1988-1990) before he joined FSU. He had been an Emeritus Professor at FSU since 2007.
An actively contributing member of AAPT since 1973, Steve served on the Committee of Undergraduate Education for many years, as well as on the Committee on Women in Physics. Besides being noted for the workshop "Science of Music," he is fondly remembered for his spectacular and often unique demonstrations in Summer AAPT Demonstration Shows. In recent years, he collaborated with others in teaching "Physics of Toys" workshops at the summer meetings.
At the section level, Steve had been a leader and mentor in the Appalachian Section of the AAPT. He served many years on the Nomination Committee. The Appalachian Section awarded him the Distinguished Service Citation.
Steve had been a tireless champion of physics, science education and STEM for western Maryland. At FSU, Steve was instrumental in first revising physics and science labs and courses into a computer-based, modelling, and inquiry-based format. Steve and his wife, Dr. Hang Deng-Luzader, also an FSU physics professor, organized and taught the outreach program, “Maryland Summer Center for the Physics of Solar and Wind Power” for gifted and talented 7th through 9th graders. Moreover, Steve was an invaluable collaborator, along with Jim and Jane Nelson, on the Maryland Higher Education Commission “Improving Teaching Quality Through Training Opportunities in Physics and Physical Science” workshops for Maryland middle and high school teachers (2010-2014).
Steve regularly contributed papers to AAPT national and section meetings. They were always innovative and interesting. He lived his life to the fullest. In his leisure time, Steve played French horn for concert bands. He taught astrophotography to astronomy enthusiasts, young and old. One year, he even captured some amazing pictures of Aurora Borealis in Frostburg, Maryland.
A memorial celebration of his life will be held August 21, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. on the Frostburg State University campus. Memorial contributions may be made to Dr. Stephen Luzader’s Memorial Scholarship Fund, FSU Foundation, Frostburg, MD, 21532.
John David Jackson, May 20, 2016
John David Jackson, whose landmark textbook, Classical Electrodynamics, has been a central part of graduate education for more than half a century, died on May 20, 2016, in Lansing, Michigan, at the age of 91. He was a meticulous scholar, a wise counselor, a tireless advocate for human rights and academic freedom, and a pillar of the international particle physics community. His theoretical research was characterized by uncommon insight and a deep engagement with experiment.
Born January 19, 1925 in London, Ontario, Jackson earned his B.Sc. (1946) in Honors Physics and Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario and completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Victor F. Weisskopf at MIT in 1949. He was a legendary teacher at McGill University (1950–1957), the University of Illinois (1957–1967), and the University of California, where he became Professor Emeritus in 1993.
Beyond the three editions of Classical Electrodynamics (1962, 1975, 1998), he published two small volumes, The Physics of Elementary Particles (1958) and Mathematics for Quantum Mechanics (1962, 2006). Several of his summer-school lecture courses are enduring classics in the particle-physics literature. His numerous contributions to the American Journal of Physics may be found online.
The American Association of Physics Teachers established the John David Jackson Award for Excellence in Graduate Physics Education for outstanding contributions to curriculum development, mentorship or classroom teaching. “A short philosophy of teaching,” he said, “might be love your subject and convey that love.”
A strong believer in the value of scholarly reviews, he served with distinction as Associate Editor of Reviews of Modern Physics (1968–1972) and Editor of the Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science (1977–1993).
Jackson became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988. Among many honors, he was a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At Berkeley, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Berkeley Citation. He particularly cherished a certificate presented by the women graduate students conferring the title Honorary Woman, in recognition of his outstanding achievements as chair of the Berkeley Physics Department, 1978-1981.
“Snapshots of a Physicist’s Life,” a reminiscence of the first half of Jackson’s life as a physicist, appeared as a prefatory chapter in Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science 49, 1–33 (1999).
Thomas Stinchcomb, April 10, 2016
Dr. Thomas Glenn Stinchcomb passed away on Sunday April 10, 2016 after a brief illness. He was born September 12, 1922 in Tiffin, Ohio. After graduating from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Tom was commissioned in the US Naval Reserve at Annapolis, received the Admiral's Award for class academic achievement and served as radar officer on the USS Mississippi during WWII. In 1945, Tom married Maxine Orr Kohler. The same year, he began graduate studies in physics at the University of Chicago (UC), specializing in high altitude radiation physics. His early career of research and teaching included Washington State University, Heidelberg College, and the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute. In 1968 Tom joined the physics faculty at DePaul University as chairman, and in 1976, his research took a new direction during a year as a visiting professor at UC, where he began focusing on radiation therapy in medicine. In the following years he continued as UC visiting research associate while teaching medical physics at DePaul and serving as primary thesis advisor for many students before retiring as professor emeritus in 1991. Tom enjoyed many service and personal activities, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, volunteering with the Senior Health Insurance Program of Illinois, playing bridge with friends and playing flute in several community bands and orchestras. Tom was a keen observer of the world around him and enjoyed sharing his observations regarding nature, the great outdoors, politics, world events, baseball and basketball. He was a teacher, role-model and mentor to many; with a heartfelt "thank you," a smile, and a great sense of humor he was an inspiration to all. Tom was a loving and caring husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. - Chicago Tribune, April 17, 2016
Thomas Stinchcomb was a member of AAPT since 1968, a member of the Chicago AAPT Section, and a regular donor to AAPT programs.
James F. Sullivan, October 6, 2015
Jim Sullivan was born March 7, 1943 in Cincinnati to James E. Sullivan and Alma Lienesch Sullivan. He married Sylvia Kasselmann on August 16, 1969. Their son Robert was born on April 9, 1974.
He was a physics major at Xavier University, from which he graduated in 1965. He taught physics at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis from 1965 to 1967, when he returned to Xavier University’s graduate program. He received his master’s degree from Xavier University in 1970.
Jim worked at the Ohio College of Applied Science (OCAS), a separate unit of the University of Cincinnati, from August of 1968 until 2010. Over the years, he was promoted from Assistant Instructor to Instructor to Assistant Professor, to Associate Professor, and finally to Professor in 1988. In 1983, he was named the Faculty Member of the Year by the students in OCAS. He taught over 30 different courses over the years at OCAS and the University of Cincinnati, many of which he designed. He was head of the Mathematics and Physics Department at OCAS from 2002 until OCAS was dissolved and absorbed by the university in 2010 and he became a member of the Physics Department. He served on numerous university and departmental committees over his career, including multiple terms on the University Senate.
During his years at Cincinnati, Jim was on leave at Solar Energy Research Institute (now National Renewable Energy Laboratory) in 1980 and was a Visiting Professor at Arcada University of Applied Sciences in Finland during 2001 and 2011. He retired from the University of Cincinnati in 2014 as Professor of Physics in the Physics Department of the McMicken College of Arts & Science.
Jim was the author of Technical Physics and co-author of two other books, Laboratory Manual for General Physics and Physics for Technology Laboratory Manual, which went through multiple editions. He contributed many papers at professional society meetings.
Jim virtually single-handedly created the Southern Ohio Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1982-83. He served as president, secretary, and member of the Board. He judged nearly every year at State Science Day for the special physics award given by the Ohio-region Section of the American Physical Society and the Southern Ohio Section since the Southern Ohio Section began the practice in 1984. He was active on the Southern Ohio Section Board until his death.
Jim was named a fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science in 2000. He was awarded the John B. Hart Award for Distinguished Service by the Southern Ohio Section in 2001.
Jim was an avid amateur radio enthusiast (holding licenses NG8T and OH2GBI), and a small-plane pilot with more than 600 hours of experience.
Jim served on the University of Cincinnati AAUP Board in the 1990s and 2000s, and was the Chief Negotiator for the University of Cincinnati Faculty and Librarians in negotiations with the university administration in 1995. He and his team were able to secure a contract that beat the then-current inflation rate, continued the benefits packages without change, and established a new professional development article.
Jim and his wife, Sylvia, enjoyed travel and attended technology and physics education conferences in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Cuba. They were experienced scuba divers who traveled the world to enjoy their diving avocation.
Brett Carroll, June 8, 2015
Brett Carroll, physics lab technologist for Green River College and longtime member of PIRA, died in his home on June 8th, 2015. Brett was born March 11, 1959, in Olympia, Washington. Brett studied physics at Washington State University before a long career working as a physics demonstration specialist at the University of Washington and then as lab technologist for physics and geology at Green River.
Brett was an educator and an inventor. Several of his inventions have found their way into the repertoires of universities across the country. Brett won many awards for his creations. In 2007 at the national conference of AAPT in Greensboro he won awards for three entries that demonstrated interesting physics concepts while still being built of inexpensive and commonly available materials and parts.
One of Brett’s greatest joys was to share his immense enthusiasm for physics with others. He did dozens of physics shows for students of all ages. He would single handedly transport cart loads of equipment, perform with gusto for three or four school groups and then bring the equipment back to the college ready for class the next day. Instructors and students leaned physics and showmanship from Brett.
Green River has a nationally recognized chapter of the Society of Physics Students. Chapter advisor and national SPS council member Ajay Narayanan said that the success the chapter owed a lot to Brett's involvement. Brett helped the students with advice and encouragement and was always patient with them. Brett spent hours helping them work on all sorts of imaginative projects. Students held him in high regard. Former students spanning many years have expressed their shock and mourning at his passing.
Brett also took a special interest in the teaching of future K12 teachers. Brett was instrumental in creating an interdisciplinary science class for future teachers. In summer Brett worked with them on a math camp for elementary students. Far beyond the call of duty, Brett offered his help to all of these teachers, encouraging them to come back for more lessons and lab ideas once they began their teaching. Many of these teachers have credited Brett with inspiring them to teach science.
Brett is survived by his sisters Erin, Leigh, and Gyll, in the United States and by his extended family in Queensland, Australia.
Marvin L. Goldberger, November 26, 2014
Goldberger began his career during World War II working on the Manhattan Project as a particle physicist. He worked as a teacher at Princeton University before being named President of California Institute of Technology in 1978. He was a member of AAPT from 1995 until his death.
John G. King, June 15, 2014
Professor emeritus John G. King, an experimental physicist, transformative physics educator, and leader of the MIT Molecular Beams Laboratory in the Research Laboratory for Electronics for 42 years, died on June 15, 2014.
King was born in London and educated in France, Switzerland, and the United States. He attended MIT as an undergraduate in 1943 and completed his undergraduate studies in physics following war service for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Harvard Underwater Sound Lab. He joined the MIT physics faculty in 1953. King was named the Francis L. Friedman Professor of Physics in 1974 and retired from MIT in 1996.
During his years as director and principal investigator of the Molecular Beam Laboratory, King transformed the research conducted there. It branched into molecular beam techniques applied to collective body physics, cosmology, and biophysics. More than 100 undergraduate and 25 doctoral students obtained their degrees working on these topics during King’s tenure at the laboratory.
A member of AAPT since 1961, King was the recipient of many honors and awards for contributions to physics and physics education. These include the AAPT Robert Millikan Medal (1965) and the Oersted Medal (2000), the most prestigious award of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Shortly before his death, he was recognized in the inaugural cohort of AAPT Fellows.
John David FitzGibbons, April 27, 2014
John David FitzGibbons (b. 4/20/1930) passed away after a brief illness on 4/27/2014. We knew him as Fitz, but was also affectionately known as Doc by many. Fitz joined AAPT in 1956, and attended his first national meeting just a few years after in Chicago. Fitz was extremely active in physics education at the local, state, national, and international levels.
Fitz began his teaching career after serving in the military as a radio operator between the Korean and Vietnamese Wars. He served as a physics education consultant to the New York State Department of Education. Fitz retired in 1992, and along with Joe Drenchko, took over the lecture demonstration and instructional labs at Syracuse University for a year, then graduated to become the world’s oldest TAs. Together, they taught physics to hundreds Syracuse University students over the next ten years. Fitz was a co-founder of the Syracuse University High School Physics Teacher Saturday Morning Workshops, which started in 1993 and continue today.
Fitz's accolades in AAPT are numerous…
- 2001-2003 Committee on International Education
- 2003-2005, 2008 Nominating Committee
- 2001-2007 Inter-American Council
- 2003-2005 Chair of Committee on International Education
- 2008-2011 Membership and Benefits Committee
- 2002-2009; 2011-2014 NY Section Representative
- 2002 Homer Dodge Distinguished Service Citation recipient
- 1993 NYSS-AAPT Distinguished Service Award
- 1988 Woodrow Wilson Institute
Fitz was a participant in the second class of PTRAs in 1986, and remained active in that program. Since then, he has gone on to co-lead dozens of workshops for hundreds of physics teachers, the last during the Spring 2014 NYSS-AAPT meeting in Rochester.
Since attending his first national meeting, he missed only a few due to other AAPT related activities. He was intimately involved in the creation of the Physics Video Classics set, was a member of the AAPT/NSF consortium that traveled to Denmark in 1996 to study physics education in a European context, and was a 50 year participating member of GIREP, attending many of those conferences. Together at GIREP, Fitz and Drenchko were known as Laurel and Hardy. Who was Laurel and who was Hardy is still unknown.
Victor Philippe Henri, April 11, 2014
Victor P. Henri was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1922. During World War II his work with the Resistance movement led him to Paris and Frederic Joliot-Curie who allowed him to join his lab at the Collège de France. He assisted Joliot with experiments, learned to prepare radioactive elements for Irène Curie's work, and took courses taught by Joliot and others.
Victor P. Henri began his professional career as an Attaché de Recherches at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Laboratoire de Chimie Nucléaire, Collège de France, Paris, carrying out studies on artificial radioactivity. He was granted a National Institutes of Health Research Fellowship to study radiation effects on chemical substances in vapor form, which he carried out from 1947-1948 at the NIH's Physical Biology Laboratory in Bethesda, MD. This opportunity, one of the first NIH fellowships, allowed him to immigrate to the United States.
He served as a Research Associate in the Department of Physics, Synchrotron Laboratory, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1949-1952, where he participated in the construction of the MIT electron synchrotron (300 MeV) and the construction of a Wilson chamber for measurement of µ decay. He was a lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Physics at George Washington University from 1952-1955. He was appointed Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor, in the Department of Physics at Northeastern University from 1955-1960 and was also a Senior Staff Member at Harvard University's Cambridge Electron Accelerator from 1958-1960, participating in the construction of the 6.5 GeV electron accelerator and carrying out magnetic field measurements under dynamic conditions.
From 1960-1962 he held a Louis de Broglie Fellowship with the French Commisariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA), Saclay and Laboratoire de Physique Atomique et Moléculaire, Collège de France, Paris. After retiring from the University of Mons, he served as Program Director for Elementary Particle Physics at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. (from 1988-1991).
He published over 130 articles in journals and delivered over 120 conference papers or reports, many published in conference proceedings. At the beginning of his career he wrote several popular science articles, explaining atomic structure and radioactivity. After he retired, he joined current events groups at the Albany and Berkeley Senior Centers in California, once again explaining scientific discoveries to a general public. He was a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the European Physical Society, and the Sigma Xi honor society.
John M. Fowler, April 8, 2014
John had a broad career within the Science Education Community, both as a leader, and author. He was a major influence within the AAPT and within the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) as well as the science education community at large.
John was the Director of the Commission on College Physics for its eleven-year period. He was also the Founder and Executive Director of the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education as well as Director of Special Projects of the NSTA.
John, the recipient of the AAPT Millikan Medal in 1969, passed away quietly in his home.
Robert Resnick, January 29, 2014
AAPT and the physics community lost a leader and avid supporter with the death of Robert (Bob) Resnick on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. Having recently celebrated his 91st birthday, Bob quietly slipped away surrounded by his family singing some of his favorite songs and still longing for his wife (Mildred) of 67 years that he had lost the previous year.
Bob was born January 11, 1923 in Baltimore Maryland to Russian Jewish immigrants. His father fought in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and was owner-operator of a corner store in Baltimore. His mother was an astute businesswoman who loved and adored her son and pushed him hard to excel. A child of the Depression, he learned early-on the value of hard work, frugality and developed a keen sense of social justice. He received his early education in the Baltimore city system, graduating from Baltimore City College high school in 1939. He received a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, the first year they lifted their quota on admission to Jewish students. He earned his BA in 1943 and his Ph.D. in 1949, both in physics from Johns Hopkins.
Upon earning his Ph.D. in 1949, Bob joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. There he met David Halliday, with whom he wrote Physics, which became the most widely used introductory textbook. Bob would later say that his goal was not to cover physics, but to uncover it. Even then, the textbook was criticized because it did not cover "all" the topics, but his focus on the fundamentals has resulted in the claim by many that the text revolutionized the teaching of introductory physics. When one speaks to current graduate students, many still cite the impact that one of the versions of "Resnick and Halliday" had on their education, be it the gold version, the blue version or the green version. During his career, Bob was the author or co-author of seven textbooks, used by over 10 million students worldwide. He was very proud of the fact that those texts have been translated into many languages. While the "urban myth" sets that number at over 47, I believe I am safe in saying that it is well over 2 dozen. Bob was known to lament, "If only I had received royalties from those translations". The original text, now published as a five-volume set revised by Jearl Walker under the title Fundamentals of Physics was named in 2002 by the American Physical Society, the most outstanding introductory physics text of the 20th century.
In 1956, Bob joined the faculty of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he remained for the rest of his career. From 1973 to 1986 he was the Chair of the Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum and in 1974 was named the inaugural E.P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Science Education. It was at RPI that Bob became a National leader in physics education. In partnership with Walter Eppenstein, Fred Leitner and Harry Meiners, the group was instrumental in elevating the statue of work in physics education to its highest level. RPI became known for its work in physics demonstrations, film and audio-visual programs, summer institutes and teacher training. From 1960-1968, he served tirelessly on the Commission on College Physics and Harry Meiners , Editor of Physics Demonstration Experiments, cites Bob's outstanding support of that effort. As a teacher, Bob was cited throughout his career for his outstanding performance and exceptional mentorship, receiving praise and awards from students and peers.
Bob is fondly remembered for his wit and his keen sense of humor. His reputation as a limericist is legendary - from his accepting a fraternity's challenge to in a verbal quest - to being the "unknown author" of a limerick column in an RPI student publication - to including "complete the limerick" questions on a physics final examination. Bob was ever vigilant in his quest to not only "humanize the scientist" but to also "sciencize the humanist". He was passionate about music (ranging from jazz to ethic music to opera, symphony and chamber music) and spoke often of his love for the piano. He was an avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles and we did not talk about the Yankees.
Bob served in the Presidential Chain of the American Association of Physics Teachers from 1986 to 1989. He was instrumental in helping to train the US Team in the International Physics Olympiad where as Jack Wilson puts it "he was given rock star status". It was during his tenure as AAPT president that I became aware of his commitment to social justice as he quietly and without fanfare significantly increased the diversity of the AAPT leadership by appointing under-represented minorities and women to committee chair positions and to membership on the association's standing committees.
In his lifetime, Bob received a host of honors and awards, and one can see his Wikipedia page for a listing. I mention here the Oersted Medal (1974) and the Distinguished Service Citation (1967) given by AAPT. In his nomination letter for the Oersted Medal, Harry Meiners, in writing about his influence wrote "..Many, profoundly affected by his example and personality and the articulate nature of his views, and trained by participation in his programs, have already begun to contribute strongly to physics education.." Upon his retirement in 1993, he was honored as RPI's commencement speaker and a nationally sponsored International Meeting in Physics Education was held in his honor. RPI created the Robert Resnick Center for Physics Education as well as the Robert Resnick Lecture in his honor. Additionally, his Alma Mater, Johns Hopkins also created the Robert Resnick Lecture to honor him. In both "Resnick Lectures", a prominent scientist visits the respective campus and gives a public lecture, supporting Bob’s passion of bringing science to the public.
Arguably, there are few practicing physicists who have not been affected positively by Resnick and we will all miss his contributions to physics. But most of all, we shall miss a colleague, a mentor, a friend, that was called by his family "A brilliant, witty, fun man who loved his family and friends and had a caring and passion for many things..".—Jim Stith
Mostafe Mark Dokhanian, January 25, 2014
Alabama A&M professor, Mostafe Dokhanian, professor of physics for more than 22 years died of natural causes. Dokhanian wrote the grant proposal that resulted in an $8 million award from the National Science Foundation in 2012 to fund the Alliance for Physics Excellence (APEX) project. The project called for him to work with Alabama high school physics teachers to implement new teaching strategies. An AAPT member since 2006 and a member of the Alabama Section, Dokhanian’s work on the APEX project and as the principal investigator for other projects, including the NSF-Pathway to Success Through Physics scholarships and the HBCU-UP program will continue to improve physics education for many years.
Keith Randolph Symon, December 16, 2013
Symon graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Harvard in 1942, with a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics. In 1948, he was awarded a Ph.D. in physics.
During World War II, he was an ensign in the U.S. Navy, working on radar in Washington, D.C. He taught physics at Wayne State University in Detroit from 1946 to 1955. In 1955, moved to Madison, where he was professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin until his retirement in 1992, when he became emeritus professor.
From 1956 to 1967, he was on the staff of the Midwestern Universities Research Association (MURA). In 1982 and 1983, he was acting director of the Madison Academic Computing Center and from 1983 to 1985, and acting director of the UW-Madison Synchrotron Radiation Center. His textbook, Mechanics, has been a staple in physics classes since publication of the first edition in 1953. It has been published in multiple languages and is still in use around the world.
Symon was awarded the Particle Accelerator and Technology Award of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society in 2003, and the American Physical Society Robert R. Wilson Prize in 2005. With four colleagues from around the country, he published Innovation Was Not Enough A History of the Midwestern Universities Research Association, in 2010. Keith was an internationally recognized figure in plasma physics and particle accelerator design, developing the FFAG (fixed field alternating gradient) accelerator concept in parallel with physicist colleagues. He contributed to the work at Fermi Lab, Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Lab, labs in Los Alamos and La Jolla, and did early research for the Hadron collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland in 1962 and 1963. His work took him to Europe, Japan, China, India, Russia, and Australia. He taught himself useful French, German, Dutch, Russian, and some Chinese.
Additional Information can be found here.
C. Clifton "Cliff" Chancey III, October 19, 2013
Clifton "Cliff" Chancey III, head of University of Northern Iowa's physics department left behind a 12-year legacy as a steadfast leader. A theoretical physicist, his interests were atomic and molecular theory, biophysical modeling and neuroscience. In some of his most recent research he was studying the physical processes involved in neural transmission. A member of AAPT since 1988, Chancy was active in the Iowa Section. He served as President Elect (2009), President (2010), and Past President (2011).
Chancey joined the UNI campus in 2001, fighting a years-long battle for a multimillion dollar renovation of the century-old Begeman Hall, formerly known as the Physics Building. He sat in on almost every meeting with the project's contractor, studying its blueprints to ensure his faculty received the laboratory and facilities they required. Earning degrees from Miami University of Ohio and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, he completed three years of postdoctoral research at Oxford University in England. While at UNI, he developed a professional science masters degree program, established in 2006. It prepared students for management positions with a curriculum of business and advanced mathematics and science courses.
Additional Information can be found here.
David Winch, October 7, 2013
The physics education community was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of David Winch , Professor Emeritus of Physics at Kalamazoo College who had been living in El Prado, New Mexico. He died October 7, 2013 at the age of 78.
David studied physics at John Carroll University, a Jesuit institution in Cleveland, obtaining his BS degree in 1957. He continued as a teaching assistant and Master's candidate at John Carroll, receiving an MS in 1962. Along the way, in 1958 he switched to part-time study and joined NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland (then called the NACA's Lewis Laboratory) just after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 and NASA's first satellite system (Vanguard), slated for launching in 1958 (International Geophysical Year), failed. By 1962 his aim was college physics teaching. He entered Clarkson University in Potsdam NY where he received a PhD. in 1967 and then began a 36 year career at Kalamazoo College.
David was an active developer of teaching-learning materials for physics. However, he did not simply prepare materials. Instead, he was seeking new teaching methods and applying recent technology to help students learn physics. He frequently obtained funding from the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education. During his career he directed more than ten science education projects with combined budgets of over $3.0 million.
Early in his career he was part of a group of physics faculty who created a complete calculus-based physics course based on the Personalized System of Instruction (also called the Keller Plan). Those teaching-learning units are available today at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=physicspsikeller. They became the core of a distance education course long before the Internet made it relatively easy to deliver learning at a distance.
He was an early collaborative developer of technology for learning physics. In 1983 he worked with teams to win national awards for science education software, in particular the application of computer game concepts to learning. Benjamin Franklin: A computer game of electric charges and fields was Grand Prize Winner in the First International Computer Ed-Game Challenge. Five years later Guilty or Innocent: You Be a Car Crash Expert won first place in the Non-Commercial, Formal Education division of the MacWorld HyperCard competition.
David was an avid bicyclist. The project The Bicycle in Science, Technology and Culture: A Model for International Cooperation in the Development of Teaching Materials provided him an opportunity to combine a hobby with his profession. The US Department of Education and its equivalent in the European Union provided funding. As Principal Investigator he managed collaboration among five universities in the United States and five in the EU. Faculty from these vastly different institutions cooperated to create instructional materials and their institutions exchanged students. Many students became involved in the materials development effort. Dealing with faculty at 10 different universities in six countries plus many students became a major administrative effort, which he completed admirably. He also took the lead in creating the final set of instructional materials, Bicycle Physics, which is available from the Ztek Co (http://www.ztek.com/).
A unique presentation came from this "bicycle" project in 2002. The AAPT Summer Meeting and the biennial conference of Groupe International de Recherche sur l'Enseignement de la Physique (GIREP) happened to occur simultaneously -- one in Boise, Idaho; the other in Lund, Sweden. So David arranged for the faculty of this intercontinental project to use the Internet to present one talk in both locations to illustrate European – US cooperation. This simultaneous talk is the only such presentation at major physics education conferences to date.
The AAPT project Physics: Cinema Classics was significantly influenced by David’s expertise and enthusiasm for the use of technology in teaching. This project produced a set of Laser Discs, later converted to DVDs, with over 245 video clips from classic physics instructional films. In addition to the creation of the video materials a large amount of ancillary materials was created. David led a team that created a Teacher’s Guide to accompany these videos and conducted numerous workshops to help teachers learn how to use these materials in an appropriate manner in their physics classes.
David taught at Kalamazoo College from 1967 to 2004, when he retired. He was beloved by his students for his easy-going approach to teaching physics, a subject that was difficult for many of them. To help them learn in his courses, he used tools and approaches that he developed outside the classroom. A side of David as important as his teaching was his love of biking and hiking. David started and then ran the Land-Sea wilderness first-year orientation program at Kalamazoo College. Not only did this program create life-long bonds between the students, but many credit David for changing their lives.
In addition to his wife Suzanne, David leaves eight surviving children, twelve grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. He also leaves a substantial number of colleagues with whom he was still collaborating to the end. Among these are a dozen young physics faculty from around the nation engaged in the Partnership for Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics (PICUP), co-founded with Norman Chonacky in 2005. Their mission, as was his, is to inspire and facilitate physics faculty to re-shape their undergraduate courses so their treatment of physics corresponds more closely to contemporary science and engineering practice. David will be missed by these from the PICUP, and by all of his colleagues and friends in the physics community.
Albert Allen Bartlett, September 7, 2013
Al was born in Shanghai, China , where his father was head of the American School. He moved to Indiana and grew up in Minnesota and Ohio.
After starting at Otterbein College, he took a year off to hitchhike and work on an ore freighter as a dishwasher and later as the night cook, but he was often in the engine room and the bridge just watching and trying to figure how things worked. He finished his bachelor’s degree at Colgate University. After graduating at the beginning of World War II, he helped teach in the physics training programs at Colgate for the Navy sailors.
Following this first teaching experience, with the help of Professor Paul Gleason from Colgate, Al was asked to report to Santa Fe, MN (the mailing address was Box 1663). After delivering a truck from the factory to Oklahoma City, he hitchhiked to Amarillo, TX, and then jumped a freight train going west. He arrived at Los Alamos later that summer and became part of the Manhattan Project and, as he described it, “the who’s who of physics.” Al worked with a Nier-type mass spectrometer to examine the isotopic constitution of plutonium. Following the war, he had the opportunity to join a high-speed motion picture group that photographed the Bikini nuclear test.
He married his wife, Eleanor, in 1946 as he began a graduate program at Harvard. He completed his PhD under Ken Bainbridge, designing and building a double-focusing beta-ray spectrometer for studying nuclear decay schemes.
In 1950, he received an invitation to join the faculty at the University of Colorado. “I don’t know if they expected me to do research or not,” he said, but he soon began redeveloping the modern course and lab there. That was the same year that he joined AAPT and began publishing in AJP. Al worked on the CU cyclotron and received grants to do beta-ray spectroscopy. As service, during the 1960s and ’70s, Al was the chair of the Faculty Council and was responsible for dealing with protesting student groups.
Al is well known for his talks about the exponential function. During the introduction for the AAPT Millikan Medal address , Bob Fuller said, “Al’s parents were surprised to see how quickly he grew, not so much at first, but then more and more” as a humorous reference to Al’s many talks about exponential growth. His first talk on the subject was to the campus premedical honor society. His title was “Population and Other Numerical Problems Dealing with Steady Growth.” He has given variations and extensions of that exponential growth talk all around the world to student groups, to service clubs, to industrial and professional meetings, and to politicians. He always began his talk with the statement, "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."
Al also acted upon his lessons. He was instrumental in limiting the population growth of Boulder, CO. He helped develop a provision to the city charter that stated that the city would not serve water west of a line whose highest point was at an elevation matching the gravity-fed water service available. The provision passed by a 2-to-1 margin in a popular vote. The land beyond that line has been purchased by the city as a buffer. With his help, a tax was instituted to purchase this greenbelt land.
A dedicated member of AAPT, Al was recognized with the Distinguished Service Citation in 1970, the Robert A. Millikan Medal in 1981, and the Melba Newell Phillips Medal in 1990. He served on the AAPT Exective Board with a term as president in 1978-79.
Al loved the outdoors. Beside frequent train trips, his family routinely camped in the Colorado mountains. For a while, he managed a remote cabin for the Colorado Mountain Club, and between Christmas and New Year’s he would sponsor his daughters’ Girl Scout Troop for several days of snowshoeing.
Al was one who saw physics everywhere in the world. He was just as likely to pull a quarter-wave plate from his wallet as talk about car steering or riding trains; he could spot inaccurate use of units and unbelievable claims about energy effortlessly (e.g., debunking the claim that “a single 40,000-kg truck does as much damage to an interstate highway as 9,600 cars”); and he wrote many articles for AJP and TPT about snow patterns, ski lifts, and pinhole mirrors, in addition to editing the “etcetera” column.
Al was friends with members of the Homer L. Dodge family. His relationship led him to suggest that AAPT change the name and direction of the Distinguished Service Citations resulting in the Homer L. Dodge Citations for Distinguished Service to AAPT.
Al Bartlett was a consummate teacher who was eager to have you appreciate the physics around you and to learn the principles that guide our understanding. He will be missed by AAPT and by the entire physics teaching community as he continues on his exponential journey.
The University of Colorado Boulder publication, Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine, has honored Al with a feature article in its December 6, 2016 issue.
see Al's website,
Phys. Teach. Vol. 20 #5 p. 298.
Mary Beth Todd Monroe, August 27, 2013
AAPT has lost a stalwart member of its community, Mary Beth Todd Monroe, who died August 27, 2013. In concert with the Texas Section of AAPT, we recognize and honor Mary Beth's many contributions to physics teaching, student advising, departmental administration, two-year college education reform, and AAPT governance at both the section and national levels. Shortly before her death the Executive Board voted to honor Mary Beth with an appointment to the presidency of AAPT during the period August 8-27, 2013. At the time of her death, Mary Beth was serving as President Elect of AAPT. Mary Beth was special in many ways. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of AAPT and its governance; she displayed unusual thoroughness in dealing with each issue she addressed; and she demonstrated remarkable trustworthiness, competence, and kindness.
Mary Beth earned her B.S. degree with Honors in Physics at Sam Houston State University in 1970 and her M.S. degree in Physics from Sam Houston State University in 1973, where she did research in lasers with Charles Manka. While working on her Masters Degree, she taught at Tarrant County Junior College in 1971 and Conroe High School in 1972-1973. During 1973-1974, she taught at Pam American University. From 1974 until 2012, she was the sole physics professor at Southwest Texas Junior College (SWTJC). As a single person physics department, she also served as chair her entire career at SWTJC. In addition, from 2007 to 2012, she served as chair of the Physical Sciences Department. For her service to SWTJC and her students, Mary Beth was awarded the Southwest Texas Junior College Outstanding Teaching Award in 1988. She also was selected by SWTJC for the NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Teaching Excellence Award in 1989.
Mary Beth’s lifelong commitment to AAPT started when she was still a student at Sam Houston State University. As a member of (and later an officer of) the Society of Physics Students there, she attended Texas Section AAPT meetings. She continued to do so her entire professional career. She served through the presidential chain for the Texas Section AAPT from 1990 to 1994, and as the Texas AAPT Section Representative to AAPT from 1997 to 2000. Mary Beth helped organize a special conference on “The Role of Texas Physics Departments in the Preparation of K-12 Teachers” in 2002. She helped “train” many of the officers of the Texas Section AAPT over the decades due to her experience and knowledge about its operation. For her outstanding contributions to physics higher education in Texas, Mary Beth was awarded the Robert N. Little Award in 2003.
Mary Beth expanded her service to AAPT from the Texas Section to the national AAPT early in her career. She made such a strong impression on “regular” AAPT national meeting attendees that they convinced her to run and become the Member-at-Large from Two Year Colleges from 1979 to 1982. She again served in this role on the AAPT Executive Board from 1994 to 1997. Mary Beth was elected and served as Secretary for AAPT from 2001 to 2007. She was elected to the Presidential Chain in 2011. Her service to AAPT includes many area committees, Executive Board committees, Steering Committees for special conferences and projects, and Task Forces. She was a reviewer for The Physics Teacher for decades and twice served three-year terms on its Editorial Board. For her service to AAPT and the physics community, She was given an AAPT Distinguished Service Award in 1998. Mary Beth was awarded AAPT’s most prestigious award, the Melba Newell Phillips Medal, in 2010.
From 1993 to 2000, Mary Beth was the Principal Investigator on the seminal project "The Two Year College in the Twenty First Century (TYC21)”, a joint DUE/NSF and AAPT project. From the research done during this project, “A Model of Reform” was published in 2000. From 2002 to 2005, she was the Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director for “Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two Year Colleges (SPIN-UP/TYC)”, a NSF/DUE-ATE award to AAPT. From the research done during the latter project, “Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two-Year Colleges: Best Practices of Physics Programs” was published in 2005 by AAPT.
Mary Beth had a deep commitment to students and the progress of student’s toward their career goals. She formed one of the first Society of Physics Student chapters at a two-year college at SWTJC in 1975. She served as advisor for that SPS chapter her entire career at SWTJC, taking her students to Texas Section AAPT meetings and other SPS activities. She served as SPS Zone 13 Councilor from 1993 to 1999.
Mary Beth Todd Monroe died in her home in Reagan Wells, Texas after a lengthy battle with cancer. AAPT mourns her loss and sends its deepest condolences to her family
Eugen Merzbacher, June 6, 2013
Eugen Merzbacher, Emeritus AAPT member, prominent theoretical atomic and nuclear physicist, former chair of the Physics Department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-founder of the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, died June 6 (Thursday) at the age of 92.
Born in Berlin, Germany, he moved with his family to Turkey in 1935, where they remained throughout World War II. It was there that Eugen obtained an undergraduate degree in physics at Istanbul University. In 1947, he immigrated to the United States, and by 1950 had earned his doctorate in physics at Harvard University. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen a short time later.
After brief appointments at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies and Duke University, Merzbacher joined the faculty of the Physics Department at UNC Chapel Hill, where he spent the remainder of his career. He was the department chair from 1977 to 1982.
Merzbacher was involved with the complexities and intricacies of cutting edge nuclear physics research throughout his career: 1959 to 1960, he worked at the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen with Niels Bohr, Nobel award winner and one of the fathers of nuclear science. 1968, he was a visiting professor at the University of Washington at Seattle in 1968 1977 he received a U.S. Senior Scientist Humboldt Award at the University of Frankfurt. 1986 he was a visiting research fellow at the universities of Edinburg and Stirling in Scotland 1991 he was the Arnold Berhard Visiting Professor at Williams College.
He was a dedicated educator and, at UNC Chapel Hill, was named a Kenan Professor in 1969. He received UNC's 1972 Thomas Jefferson Award. In 1990, he served as president of the American Physical Society. He retired from UNC in 1991. In 1993 he received an honorary degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received many awards from his peers for his teaching and service to the physics community.
Mersbacher wrote one of the first graduate level textbooks on quantum mechanics, which went into a third edition in 1998 and was an introduction to the field for generations of students.
Information shared from the NewsObserver: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?n=eugen-merzbacher&pid=165215161#fbLoggedOut
Paul William Zitzewitz, April 30, 2013
AAPT joins the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the Michigan Section of AAPT in honoring the lifetime contributions of Paul W. Zitzewitz to the physics education community, the Dearborn arts community, and his family.
Paul earned his B.A. degree in physics from Carleton College in 1964, and his A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Harvard University in 1965 and 1970, respectively, where he did research on the atomic hydrogen maser with Nobel Laureate Norman Ramsey. Between 1970 and 1973, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Western Ontario, and then a senior scientist at Corning Glass Works. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan-Dearborn as an assistant professor of physics in 1973, becoming associate professor in 1978 and professor in 1983. He was appointed Professor of Science Education in 2004. Within the Dearborn campus, he served as Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.
In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Paul's later research focused on positrons and positronium, and in particular, precision measurements of the decay rate of orthopositronium. During his long career, he taught most of the courses in the physics curriculum and also made important contributions in upper-division laboratory courses, electronics courses and the advanced laboratory. He also reformed both the pedagogy and laboratories of the introductory calculus-based mechanics course. In addition, he developed and taught three courses for pre-service and in-service elementary school teachers. His widely-used high school textbook, Physics: Principles and Problems, published by McGraw-Hill/Glencoe, went through nine editions and was translated into several foreign languages. His book, The Handy Physics Answer Book (Visible Ink Press, 2nd Ed. 2011), explains physics phenomena in easy to understand conceptual language.
Paul retired from active faculty status as a professor of physics in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, and Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, on April 30, 2009.
Active in many physics and physics teachers' organizations, Paul served as president of the Michigan Section, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and treasurer and executive board member of the national AAPT. He received the distinguished service award from the Michigan Section of the AAPT in 2001 and was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2002. He received the Dearborn campus's Distinguished Faculty Research Award in 1985, the Distinguished Service Award in 2003, and the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007.
In 2010 Paul W. and Barbara S. Zitzewitz generously endowed AAPT's Excellence in Pre-College Teaching award and the name of the award was changed to the Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching.
Paul's commitment to an experimental approach to scientific research and learning was born out of a basic curiosity about the world, one that he tried to encourage in his students, children, and grandchildren alike.
A celebration of his life will be held on Friday, May 24 at 11 a.m. at the Fairlane Center, North Building of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, 19000 Hubbard Drive, Dearborn. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his name may be made to University of Michigan-Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48128, Attn: Diane Gulyas (email@example.com), to University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (http://www.upmccancercenter.com/giving/gifts_honor.cfm), or to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
John S. Risley, April 5, 2013
AAPT joins the North Carolina Section and the employees of WebAssign in this recognition of John Risley who passed away at home after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer for 6 months. He joined the physics faculty at North Carolina State University in 1976 and spent the first part of his career doing research in atomic physics and the second part of his career in physics education.
John has had a tremendous impact on Physics Education and AAPT. He joined the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1981 and received a Distinguished Service Citation Award in 1992. In 1989, John co-organized and hosted the Conference on Computers in Physics Instruction at North Carolina State University. In 1989, he began publishing Physics Academic Software (PAS) in cooperation with AIP. PAS continued for 22 years, and today many of these classic programs are still available through the comPADRE Digital Library. From 1993-1995, John developed summer workshops on educational technology for high school teachers called the Physics Courseware Evaluation Project (PCEP) Teacher Institute.
In 1997, he oversaw the development of WebAssign, an online application best known for grading homework, and its successful commercialization with over 180 employees. Thanks to John's leadership, WebAssign grew successfully from a university-based homework system to a company that serves more than 1 million students each year at over 1,500 educational institutions worldwide. Recently, WebAssign was reincorporated as a benefit corporation and its ownership was transferred to its employees.
John was a passionate teacher and physicist whose gifts in leadership and business helped teachers teach, students learn, and physics software developers take their ideas to the marketplace.
Tucker Chan, January 5, 2013
Physics Olympian and gold medal winner, Tucker Chan died accidentally in Menlo Park, California. A student at Stanford University pursuing a Ph.D. in high energy physics, he was twice selected for the U.S. Physics Team and won a gold medal in 2008. He attended M.I.T, graduating in 2012 with degrees in mathematics and physics.
Carey E. Stronach, December 16, 2012
Physicist Carey Elliott Stronach of Petersburg,VA, taught for forty-one years at Virginia State University. He devoted his career to the study of spin rotation of muons, one of six leptons or "elementary particles" that, along with quarks, constitute the basic building blocks of matter.
Stronach joined AAPT in 1969 and was a member of the Chesapeake Section. Read more...
Theodore W. Vittitoe, December 14, 2012
An AAPT member since 1982, Ted was a physics teacher in the Chicago area for many years, participated as a reader and table leader at the Reading for a number of years, and conducted workshops that were the source of valuable information for a great many beginning and veteran physics teachers. Ted served as a coach of the U.S. Physics Team for several years. He had moved to Florida a number of years ago, and was still teaching at Manatee Community College.
Ralph F. Wuerker, October 29, 2012
An AAPT member since 1991, a member of the Southern California AAPT Section, and a pioneer in laser physics and holography Ralph Wuerker died of multiple myeloma at age 83. A workbench physicist for nearly 50 years, his love of science led him from work with the first lasers and early holography in Southern California, to research using LIDAR and liquid mirror telescopes, to the study of the ionosphere and the aurora borealis in Alaska. A graduate of Occidental College, Wuerker received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1960. He spent 25 years working in the aerospace industry, primarily at TRW in Redondo Beach. He continued his research as a chief investigator with UCLA's Plasma Physics Lab until his retirement in his mid-70s. His work led to more than 25 patents, most notably the patent on holographic interferometry, which he shares with two other researchers at TRW. He also did extensive research in mass spectrometry, superconducting plasma magnet systems and dust measurements in shock-wave environments, and he coauthored dozens of scientific papers. In 1985, he built the holocamera that flew on Spacelab 3. A longtime member of the American Physical Society and the American Optical Society, his work took him to such places as the missile test site at White Sands, N.M., the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and to art restoration labs in Venice, Italy.
Stanford R. Ovshinsky, October 17, 2012
A self-taught scientist, Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and Michigan Section of AAPT. Ovshinsky is credited with the development of the field of amorphous and disordered semiconductors. His belief that energy and information are the two pillars of the society, guided his pioneering work in the fields of sustainable energy and information technology. His advanced nickel-metal hydride battery enabled the hybrid vehicle industry, his continuous web multi-junction flexible solar panels set the standard for thin film photovoltaic energy generation, and his non-volatile phase change memory technology are on the verge of replacing flash memory. Other contributions included flat panel liquid crystal displays, hydrogen storage and fuel cell technology.
Described by the British publication, The Economist as “the Edison of our age,” Ovshinsky was a brilliant physicist and inventor who lived his beliefs daily by using science and technology to create a cleaner and better world. He was among the 20th century’s most inventive breed of scientists who, like Edison, parlayed their ideas into practical commercial applications.
In 1960, together with his late wife Iris, he co-founded Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD), to develop and apply his inventions to the fields of information and energy creating a new field based on his work known as “Ovonics.” In 2007, he retired from ECD and formed Ovshinsky Innovation LLC and Ovshinsky Solar LLC to accelerate his work in energy and information.
Ovshinsky’s global recognition includes his selection as a finalist for the prestigious European Inventor Award 2012 by the European Patent Office for his development of nickel-metal hydride batteries and the 2005 Innovation Award for Energy and the Environment by The Economist. Ovshinsky was named “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine in 1999.
In addition to being a scientist, Ovshinsky was also a committed humanitarian. His courage and leadership from the early days of the labor, civil rights and peace movements, continued in his lifelong dedication to a just society for all.
New York Times Obituary
Franklin Miller Jr., October 4, 2012
AAPT joins the Ohio Section and Kenyon College in mourning the passing of Franklin Miller Jr. Miller was born in 1912 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Franklin Miller, a lawyer and judge, and Maude Barnes, a writer. This longtime AAPT member celebrated his 100th birthday on September 8. He will be remembered by the Kenoyon community as a teacher, mentor, scholar and keystone of his community.
He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1933 where he majored in mathematics, played soccer, and ran track. In 1933 he went to graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he earned both an experimental and a theoretical doctorate in x-ray physics in 1939. Always interested in music, he contributed a chapter on acoustics to the new textbook by Ference and Lemon, “Analytical Experimental Physics” toward the end of his years at Chicago.
From 1937 to 1948 Franklin taught physics and astronomy as a faculty member at Rutgers University. He solved his moral dilemma as a member of the Society of Friends during the war by teaching the premed students. He was a member of the physics department at Kenyon College from 1948 until his retirement in 1981.
Miller joined AAPT in 1948, actively participating in local and national meetings. He returned to the classroom during the 1985-86 academic year. In 1959 he published the textbook, College Physics, which sold nearly a million copies. He was senior co-author of Concepts in Physics, which was used in high schools around the country.
With a grant from the National Science Foundation in 1963, he produced a series of short, single-concept physics demonstration films, including his preservation of a famous film clip of the gallop and collapse of the Tacoma (Washington) Narrows Bridge. The Miller films were the hit of the 1964 AAPT/APS winter meeting in New York City. He received the 1970 Millikan Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers for "creative teaching of physics." His response, "A Long Look at a Short Film" is classic. In 1993 the film series was transcribed to videotape format, and in 2001 the series was transcribed to videodisc format.
In 1968 Miller decided that it was time for Kenyon to come into the computer age. He did much of the work to have the first IBM 1130 computer installed at the college and became their first computer expert. He retired from formal teaching at Kenyon in the middle of 1981.
Miller had many interests outside his professional work. As an amateur musician, he played viola in the early years of the Knox County Symphony, and, since 1939, he regularly played string quartets with friends in his home. He was coach of the Lords soccer team for four seasons in the early 1950s.
An ardent genealogist, he published three books listing data for some 21,000 relatives. He helped prepare several volumes of records published by the Knox County Genealogical Society, of which he was a founding member. He served as president of a number of civic organizations.
The community will greatly miss the man, President S. Georgia Nugent said. "With the passing of Franklin Miller, Kenyon has lost a legendary and inspirational figure. Franklin exemplified the intellectual life of boundless curiosity and lifelong learning." See the Kenyon College news release.
Robert F. Neff, September 29, 2012
Robert F. Neff passed away at age 75. Born in Lima, Ohio, he received his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and his master’s degree in Science Teaching from Cornell University. Neff taught physics at Suffern Senior High School in New York. As a participant in an NSF Institute at Yeshiva University, he took Tom Miner’s course on apparatus and physics teaching and his name was associated with the use of experiments and demonstrations in physics teaching throughout his career.
Neff was very active in physics education in New York State and served as President of the Hid-Hudson Physics Teachers Association, 1974-78. In 1980 he was named the Outstanding Physics Science Teacher in the southeastern section of the Science Teachers Association of New York State.
Neff Joined AAPT in 1959 and was a current Emeritus member at the time of his death. He served on the Editorial Board of The Physics Teacher from 1974 - 77, and as editor of the “Good Reading from Other Journals” column from 1978 - 1999. He was a member of the Committee on Physics in High Schools, the Committee on Apparatus, and the temporary committee to revise the handbook on the preparation of high school teachers. Neff was a physics textbook author and award-winning teacher to generations of students at Suffern High School, retiring in 1997. An avid hiker, biker and environmentalist, he made his way through Harriman State Park, Ireland and France on a bicycle.
Neff received the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 1987. He was recognized for his many contributions as a physicist, teacher, and good citizen.
Lawrence J. Badar, September 3, 2012
A U.S. Army Veteran of the Korean Conflict, Lawrence Badar (Larry) was married to Dolores for 54 years. Larry began his teaching career as Professor of Physics in 1956 at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. In the early sixties, he began teaching Physics and later became Science Department Chairman at Rocky River High School.
Badar taught all levels of high school physics for thirty years, In 1985, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and, as a result, he became a fellow at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. for 2 years before his 1987 to 1989 appointment as an NSF Program Officer (in Teacher Enhancement). Following that, he served as Special Assistant to the Deans of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), with primary responsibility for middle/high school teacher professional development and high-ability student programs. In addition to university-sponsored in-service programs, he directed an NSF-supported Young Scholars Program for five years and a Teacher Enhancement project, "Engineering Awareness for High School Teachers," also with local corporate support. For two years he served as Teacher Coordinator for the Ohio Systemic Initiative whose PIs were Jane Kahle and Ken Wilson. In 1997 he established the CWRU Center for Science and Mathematics Education and served as its director until opting recently for partial retirement.
Colleagues, Jim Nelson and John Layman said, "We knew Larry Badar when the number of high school teachers at an AAPT meeting could be counted on one hand. Always the consummate gentleman and advocate for students, Larry was a participant in the first AAPT/PTRA Summer Institute in 1985."
During his years as a PTRA high school physics member Larry also became a Presidential Awardee from Cleveland, OH, and a served as a Visiting Scientist at the National Science Foundation. Upon completing his NSF visiting appointment, Larry returned to the PTRA program as one of the Co-PIs of a new PTRA NSF funded program with the title of PTRA-PLUS, that emerged as a project led by two very talented and committed high school physics teachers. His wide experience as a teacher and administrator of educational programs helped to mold the AAPT/PTRA Program during its most formative years. (See The Physics Teacher, Vol. 39, April 2001.) In many ways Larry served as the AAPT/PTRA historian.
Badar was one of the founders, a life-long time participator, and section officer in the Ohio Section of AAPT. He served on an American Institution of Physics Meggers Project Award program, a biennial award designed to fund projects for the improvement of high-school physics teaching in the United States. In 1992 his service to PTRA, AAPT, and the greater physics community was recognized with the Distinguished Service Citation.
His influence during decades of leadership in PTRA is a lasting and expanding legacy, noted John Layman and Jim Nelson. "Since 1987 there has been a steady increase in the percentage of high school students enrolled in physics. Enrollment is at an all-time high since 1948 with over 1,000,000 students enrolled each year. Something is working!"
Robert G. Fuller, April 9, 2012
We are sad to report the passing of Bob Fuller who had experienced a brain aneurism last Thanksgiving. He passed away on Monday April 9, 2012.
Professor Robert G. Fuller was the leader of the Research in Physics Education Group (RPEG) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UNL from 1989 to 2005. He became a full time emeritus professor in the spring of 2005.
Fuller earned his B.S. in Physics at the University of Missouri, Rolla. Both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics were received from the University of Illinois, Urbana. He started his physics career as a research Assistant in 1956 at Owens Illinois Glass Company in Toledo, OH. Over the next 50 years his contributions and opportunities took him from California to New York before he became a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) in 1976. He retired from UNL as Professor Emeritus in 2005.
Fuller, an Emeritus Member of AAPT, joined the Association in 1959. He actively served in many roles over his lifetime, including; Vice President (1978), President-elect (1979), President (1980), Past-president(1981); Instructional Media Committee (1974-1977, 1985-1988), Chair(1985-87); Student Confidence Workshop Committee Chair(1983-1986); Physics Teaching and the Development of Reasoning Committee (1973-75); Editor, AAPT Instructional Materials Center, 1987-1994.
He received the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 1986 and the Robert A. Millikan Medal for outstanding contributions to the teaching of physics in 1992.
Additional honors given to Fuller include: Distinguished Teaching Awards, UNL, 1973 and 1986; American Association of Higher Education Faculty Leadership Salute, March 1986; Insight magazine, "one of 10 best college professors in America", March 11, 1987; Commendatory resolution 307, Nebraska Legislature, March 10, 1988 ; UMR-MSM Alumni Merit Award, 1988; and Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award, University of Nebraska, April, 1993.
An innovative educator, he eagerly embraced new technologies and developed learning activities to include them as partners in learning, notably: Topics in Environmental Science Course, team taught, 1971-74; Individualized Instruction in Physics using the Keller Plan; Multidisciplinary, Piagetian-based program for college freshmen (ADAPT); Interactive videodisc lessons, beginning with The Puzzle of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse; Workshops on College Teaching and the Development of Reasoning; Energy in Perspective physics course for non-science freshmen; Problem Solving Using Computers course for non-science majors; "Paperless" Physics; and Computer Intensive Physics.
He is also recognized for his books, A Love of Discovery: Science Education - The Second Career of Robert Karplus and College Teaching and the Development of Reasoning.
Fuller’s contributions to education will have a continuing impact through the projects he helped lead and the many books and articles he authored or co-authored. AAPT joins the UNL and the physics education community in recognizing the lasting legacy of Dr. Robert G. Fuller.
Sallie Ann Watkins, December 21, 2011
Longtime education advocate, Dr. Sallie Ann Watkins, of Pueblo West, CO, died Dec. 21, 2011, of natural causes. She was 89. Watkins was a professor at the University of Southern Colorado (now Colorado State University-Pueblo), retiring as dean of the College of Science and Mathematics in 1989. After her retirement, she helped to establish a scholarship for physics majors at the university.
In a 2003 article published in The Pueblo Chieftain, Watkins told reporter Peter Roper, "During my youth, becoming a nun was one of the few ways that society encouraged young women into a career of service." Watkins graduated from Notre Dame College in 1946 and became a chemistry teacher at Notre Dame Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. She was drafted to teach a physics class and pursued that path. Returning to Notre Dame College, she served as teacher, Dean of Women, and department chair over the period from 1950 to 1966. During this period she earned her doctorate in physics from Catholic University in 1958.
She served on the Governor's Science and Technology Advisory Council, the Governor's Math, Science, and Technology Commission, and the Colorado Teacher's Award Committee. Watkins was a lifelong advocate promoting the need to attract and keep women and minorities in the sciences. She directly oversaw the Pueblo Project, a program designed to improve science teaching and curriculum in Pueblo's District 60 schools.
Watkins came to Pueblo in 1966, leaving her Cleveland convent with a group of 10 nuns who came to Pueblo to start the Community of Christian Service. She took a position at the University of Southern Colorado in 1966, and spent the next 22 years making her presence strongly felt both in the University and in the community of Pueblo. She was recognized as an able administrator, serving as both Assistant Vice President for Research and Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, as well as Department Chair in two separate 3-year terms. At the same time, Watkins received continuing accolades from students at the University for the quality of her inspirational teaching. She was quiet and unassuming, but a powerful force and very influential in teacher preparation and physics teaching in southern Colorado. A major focus of her research work was on Lise Meitner.
Watkins was active in numerous local charities, helping found the Girls Club, which later became part of the Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo. According to the 2003 Pueblo Chieftain article, Watkins was also the first Colorado member of the National Organization of Women and considered herself a feminist in pushing for equal treatment and access for women in political and economic life.
In 1989 Watkins was recognized for her service in the physics education community with the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation. Her citation read in part:
In keeping with her custom of blazing trails where none had been before, Sallie A. Watkins served as the first Senior Education Fellow of the American Institute of Physics during the 1987-88 year. In the midst of doing many services to physics education while holding that Fellowship, she also held to a theme that has guided many of her activities. To quote from her final report to the Institute, "If the needs of the nation are to be met in the next decade, we must begin now to remove those barriers which keep females and minority persons from choosing careers in science and engineering." Seeking to remove those barriers, Watkins has been a doer rather than a talker. While at AIP, she was instrumental in launching Project SEER, a pilot project operating in the University City School District in St. Louis. The goal of this project is to achieve equal access to science learning and science careers for every child, regardless of gender, ethnic origin, or any other factor that has traditionally limited such access.
Watkins played a major role in the activities of the American Association of Physics Teachers. She served on the Executive Board from 1983 to 86. Building on her background of research and writing in the field of History of Physics, she was the first chair (1986-88) of the new area committee on the History and Philosophy of Science. She also served two terms as a member of the area committee on Science Education for the Public.
In 2001, AAPT recognized her lifetime contribution to teaching with the Robert A. Millikan Award. Her Award Lecture, "Can descriptive end with A?" focused on the active learning as the path to improved results in math and science education.
William "Bill" R. Riley, December 28, 2011
AAPT joins the Ohio State University Department of Physics and AAPT members in Ohio in mourning the passing of William “Bill” R. Riley who died on December 28, 2011 at the age of 89. Bill graduated from Bellaire High School and earned his AB(BA) in Math and Physics from Hiram College in 1944. He served as an Ensign and Lieutenant JG in the US Navy from September 1944 to September 1946. After his discharge he returned to Hiram as an Instructor in math and physics. While there he met Mary Greig, his wife. They were married August 27, 1949, moved to the Ohio State University area in Columbus, and spent most of their 62 years of marriage there.
Bill earned three degrees from The Ohio State University: a B.S. (1951), M.A. (1952), and Ph.D. (1959). He joined the Department of Physics faculty after earning his Ph.D. He was one of four OSU physicists who were consultants for Summer Institutes of Physics for college professors in India. In 1965, he returned to India for six months and supervised seven institutes. The OSU College of Education and the Government of India funded those Summer Institutes. In March 1967, he took an eighteen-month leave of absence from OSU to serve as an NSF staff scientist in India. His family lived in New Delhi most of that time.
Upon returning from India in September 1968, he resumed his teaching career at OSU. For the last 15 years of his teaching career, he served as the course supervisor for the pre-professional undergraduate physics course sequence. In 1987, he retired from OSU and was granted Emeritus status. In the spring of 2011, the William R. Riley "Excellence in Teaching Physics" Award was established at The Ohio State University.
An Emeritus member and strong supporter of AAPT, Bill first joined the association in 1948.
William D. Ploughe, September 9, 2011
AAPT joins the Southern Ohio Section, The Ohio State University, and the family of William (Bill) D. Ploughe in recognizing his contributions to the physics education community.
A longtime physics professor at The Ohio State University, Ploughe received a bachelor's degree in education, and his masters degree in physics from Indiana University. In 1961 he completed his doctorate in experimental nuclear physics at Purdue University. He was a professor of physics at The Ohio State University from 1962 until his retirement in 1992. With the exception of two years at the US Atomic Energy Commission from 1966 till 1968, he taught elementary physics to life science and engineering students. He also worked with the high school teachers program.
Following retirement he continued as a faculty emeritus. A true teacher, he was gifted with the ability to bring difficult topics to a level that his students could understand. He was a member of the Ohio State Retirees Association, the American Physical Society, and the Ohio Academy of Science.
Ploughe was also a longtime member of the American Association of Physics Teachers where he served on the Committee on Computers in Physics Education and the Membership and Benefits Committee. He served as the Southern Ohio Section Representative for eight years, president for two consecutive terms as well president-elect and past president, and as judge coordinator for the physics awards sponsored by SOS and Ohio-Region Section of the American Physical Society for Ohio's State Science Day, 1986 and 1987. He also served as co-chair of the local host committee for the 1986 AAPT Summer Meeting at OSU.
Ploughe received the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 2002 in recognition of "his leadership in integrating computers, video, and multimedia into physics teaching and his service to the education of physics teachers and to AAPT."
Julius Henry Taylor, August 27, 2011
Julius Taylor was head of the Morgan State University Physics Department and Emeritus member of AAPT. Taylor was a physics professor at Morgan State for 37 years. He earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1938. After enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania he was encouraged to continue his graduate education in physics and received his master's degree and doctorate in 1947 in solid state physics. He was the second African-American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and the first to receive one in physics. He was also a Rosenwald Fellow at the university.
In 1945 he became chairman of the physics department at West Virginia State College. Then in 1949 he was hired to establish a physics department at Morgan State College, now Morgan State University, and became the first chair.
In 1975, he received a Distinguished Service Citation from the American Association of Physics Teachers for his, "Community service and teaching, [that] had a major influence on science teaching in the state of Maryland. As head of the physics department at Morgan State University, he has sent many students on to graduate careers including at least eight Ph.D.'s. He is even better known for educating public school teachers in physics and other sciences. He as been associate Director of NSF Science Institutes for Secondary School Teachers at Morgan State and Lecturer for Science Institutes for Elementary Teachers at American University. He served as chairperson or member of the Science Council of Maryland Academy of Sciences; as Executive Committee member, President, and Section Representative of the Chesapeake Section of AAPT and on the AAPT National Committee on Physics in Secondary Schools. He served as a member of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission and the Governor's Science Advisory Council."
Taylor was know for his research publications on x-ray diffusion, electrical and optical properties of semi-conductors, and other critical areas of science. His work was published in The American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher, and Physics Today.
He was generous in his support of physics education, donating his knowledge, means, and time to future generations. Taylor was beloved as a mentor in Baltimore's junior and senior high schools where he nurtured, influenced, and encouraged minority students to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences.
John Sampson Toll, July 15, 2011
John Toll was a physicist, scholar, and educator whose many achievements included the development of Maryland physics from a small department to one of the largest and finest in the nation. He was an Emeritus AAPT Member, having joined in 1980.
He graduated from Yale with the highest honors. Then he served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, Toll completed his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton where he helped found Project Matterhorn, a top-secret Cold War effort to control thermonuclear reactions. In 1953, he began a 13-year stint as chair and builder of the University of Maryland Department of Physics and Astronomy. Departmental faculty members were involved with the AAPT and its activities.
He left in 1965 and became the first president at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During that time the AAPT had its Executive Office at Stony Brook, enabling him to keep up with AAPT activities.
In 1978 he returned to the University of Maryland system to serve as President and later Chancellor. The AAPT also moved its Executive Office to College Park, and the offices of the Chancellor were just off the Maryland Campus. John Toll was always able to track the AAPT programs and retained his membershin in AAPT until 2008. In 2002, the Maryland physics building was named in his honor.
At age 71 he took on a new challenge as president of Washington College, a little-known liberal arts school of 850 students on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in dire financial straits. Dr. Toll extended $10,000-a-year merit scholarships to any student who had been a member of the National Honor Society in high school. In two years, applications rose by two-fifths and the mean grade point average leapt from 3.0 to 3.3.
In physics, he is well known for his work in developing the modern approach to dispersion theory and its application to problems in elementary particle physics. Between university jobs in the early 1990s, Dr. Toll oversaw the enormous U.S. superconducting supercollider project until Congress defunded it.
Katherine Elizabeth Mays, June 30, 2011
Katherine was an exemplary physics teacher, AAPT member for more than 40 years, and an AAPT staff associate who helped launch the PTRA program. She was the High School Fellow in the AAPT national office while Jack Wilson was the Executive Officer, and was a strong leader in all AAPT activities, especially the High School activities. She served as Chair of the AAPT Committee on High School Physics. She also served on the AAPT Executive Board representing the high school community from 1982-3. In 1985 her service to AAPT was recognized with the Distinguished Service Citation.
Mays was very active in the Texas Section of AAPT, serving as president of the section. She had a true love of education from learning, to teaching, to continuing to learn. She was an educator for Van Vleck, Needville and Bay City ISD's for over 40 years. She was member of the Sigma Pi Sigma (National Physics Society) and the National Science Teacher Association. She contributed on the NASA High School Physics Project, The Mechanical Universe.
Mays taught in Van Vleck, Needville, and Bay City, Texas for over 40 years; and she was a strong advocate for school science issues including being elected to the Sweeny City Council and School Board. She was member of Sigma Pi Sigma (the National Physics Honor Society). She worked with many physics curriculum projects including the NASA High School Physics Project and the Anneberg Media's The Mechanical Universe.
Katherine's outstanding performance as a physics teacher was recognized through many awards including Outstanding Physics Teacher in Texas and Outstanding Secondary Educator of America.
Gerard P. Lietz, November 26, 2010
Gerard P. Lietz obtained his B.S. in physics at DePaul University in 1959, and his Ph.D. at Notre Dame University in 1964. He was project officer at the U.S. Army Harry Diamond Laboratory, Washington, DC in 1964–66, and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Basel, Switzerland in 1966–67.
An Emeritus member of AAPT, Lietz joined the organization in 1968. He served on local, state, and national AAPT committees and wrote a number of articles that were published in The Physics Teacher. Lietz was Associate Professor of Physics at DePaul University until his retirement. He was a member in its first year of the NSF-supported Illinois State Physics Project ~ISPP, designed to bring college and high school teachers together to improve physics teaching quality in Illinois. Although after three years the funding ran out, Harald Jensen decided it was too good to die, and it has survived for 30 years. Lietz hosted the ISPP at DePaul every year since 1968, and was co-chair since 1990.
Lietz joined the Chicago section of AAPT soon after going to DePaul and attended both his first local and national meetings in Chicago. His first summer meeting at Appalachian State University impressed him greatly because for the first time he met people whose articles he had read. For ten years he served as Section Representative for the Chicago Section, and also served on the Membership and Benefits Committee, the International Education Committee, and the Nominating Committee, the latter being cut short by illness.
He organized the extremely enjoyable evening demonstration show at the National Meeting at Notre Dame, with about 25 presenters and an audience of 1200 attendees. He repeated this success as a demonstration workshop at the joint APS-AAPT meeting in Indianapolis.
In 1991 he was invited to participate in the NSF-funded Local Alliances Project of the American Physical Society. He travelled with his indefatigable colleague Ann Brandon of Joliet West High School. Over the next few years they went to sites ranging from Boston to California to encourage alliance building. This way they met teachers from all over the country and explained the advantages of alliances and of the AAPT.
In 1999 Lietz was recognized with the Distinguished Service Citation for his invaluable contributions to AAPT committees and the Chicago Section, his organization of Demonstration Shows and Workshops, his contribution to the Alliance Project, both in disseminating the concept and encouraging the building of alliances.
Lietz battled leukemia for a year, and passed away last Friday, November 26, 2010 at the age of 72.
Wilbur A. Miner, October 24, 2010
Wilbur A. Miner, "Will" passed away at Joliet Area Community Hospice Home, October 24, 2010. He was 77.
Miner served in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1953-1955. He earned both his Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees at Western Illinois University. He performed postgraduate work at the University of Wyoming. Miner taught physics at Joliet Township High School from 1962 until 1965 and Joliet Junior College from 1965 until his retirement in 1994. He related well with his students and enjoyed teaching physics to automotive technology students as well as engineering students. Miner was the first junior college teacher to be honored as the recipient of Physics Teacher of the Year. Following his retirement, he enjoyed fishing and gardening, and was happy to share his vegetables with friends and family. His favorite vacations were those spent camping in the Wyoming mountains.
Miner served as Illinois Section AAPT (ISAAPT) Secretary/Treasurer for 8 years (1981-1988), longer than any other person in this position. He worked hard on the revision and discussion of the section's Constitution and By-Laws. He enthusiastically helped when Joliet Junior College hosted two joint ISAAPT-CSAAPT meetings. In 1990, Miner was given the Distinguished Service Citation Award for his contributions to ISAAPT. He worked hard to make ISAAPT strong and always was willing to pitch in whenever asked. He will be missed but he left wonderful memories and a legacy of service to others and especially students.
Timothy Vanderbosch, October 20, 2010
Students at Eldorado High School honored their former science teacher, Mr. Vanderbosch because changed lives for the better. The Las Vegas teacher was killed during a robbery as he walked to school. VanDerbosch taught science classes, including chemistry and physics, at Eldorado High for 15 years — making it his mission to help students graduate. He had been an AAPT member since 2008.
Clifford Swartz, August 14, 2010
Clifford E. Swartz, a founding member of the physics department faculty at Stony Brook University (State University of New York at Stony Brook) and editor for almost 30 years of The Physics Teacher, died August 14th at the age of 85. He died of complications of Parkinson's disease.
Swartz was legendary for his lectures, demonstrations, and enthusiasm for teaching physics. In 1987, he was awarded the Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers - which recognizes "those who have had an outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics." Other recipients have included Victor Weisskopf, Charles Kittel, Richard Feynman, and Carl Sagan. In 2007, he was the tenth person to be honored with AAPT's Melba Newell Phillips Award, presented only occasionally to an AAPT leader whose creative leadership and dedicated service have resulted in exceptional contributions to the Association.
Between 1981 and 1983, Swartz was the first civilian physicist to teach at the Military Academy at West Point. He was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by the Department of the Army in 1983 for his efforts to change the physics curriculum at West Point.
He authored or co-authored more than 30 books, most of them physics books and textbooks. Prof. Laszlo Mihaly, chair of the physics department at Stony Brook said in his note to the department announcing the death of Dr. Swartz, "His 1998 book, Teaching Introductory Physics: A Sourcebook, should be a required reading to all high school science teachers. Two of his other books, Phenomenal Physics and Back of the Envelope Physics are entertaining reading for anyone with interest in science."
Swartz was editor of The Physics Teacher between 1967 and 1985, and again between 1990 and 2000. His monthly editorials were legendary for their wit and advice on how people learn - with titles such as "No One Kissed the Physics Teacher." A collection of the editorials was published in 2006 under the title Cliff's Nodes.
Swartz was widely known for his efforts to change the teaching of science - especially physics - so that students from elementary school through college would learn by doing experiments rather than passively watching teacher demonstrations and lectures. In the late 1950s he led the effort by physicists at Brookhaven National Laboratory to bring what was then the "new" physics, known as PSSC Physics, to Long Island. The PSSC effort was started at MIT in 1956; and in 1957-58 about 50 high school science teachers from Suffolk County attended weekly seminars by Swartz and others. Challenged by one of the teachers to try teaching high school students, he jumped at the idea and taught at Port Jefferson High School in 1959-60, an experience he enjoyed enormously. In later years at Stony Brook, he led a physics department seminar for students preparing to become high school physics teachers and he continued to lead a seminar for current high school physics teachers until four years ago.
Swartz was one of the Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search Contest Finalists in 1942, the first year of the contest. He was born in Niagara Falls, New York on February 21, 1925. He was a 1945 graduate of the University of Rochester, where he earned his PhD in physics in 1951.
Starting in 1951, Swartz was a scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory; there he worked on experiments with the Cosmotron, which was then one of the new generation of high energy accelerators. With his new-found interest in teaching physics, he helped start the physics department at the new State University of Stony Brook in 1957, which was then housed in Oyster Bay. For five years, he divided his time between the two institutions, becoming a full time faculty member at Stony Brook when the university moved to its new campus in 1962.
During the 1960s, he was a member of the New York State Department of Education committee to revise the high school physics syllabus, and he was the director of several National Science Foundation workshops and conferences to produce science materials for elementary school and junior high school students. Swartz never turned down numerous requests from the American Institute of Physics to be a three-day Visiting Scientist to smaller colleges.
He also wrote and published four books of poetry and short plays which were recited and performed in the Stony Brook community. Some of his poems were for elementary school age children and were intended for a series of science books (Measure and Find Out) that he wrote for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. In his early years at Brookhaven Laboratory, Swartz acted in plays at the Lab and helped lead a Great Books Society Group there with his wife. He also sang in his church choir and found time to participate on committees for the village where he lived for more than 50 years.
He was married for 63 years to Barbara Myers Swartz, an historian and civic leader who died this past February. He is survived by their six children and seven grandchildren.
A fellowship fund in Cliff Swartz's name for masters students who want to teach high school physics has been established at Stony Brook University. Donations for the Clifford Swartz Fellowship Fund should be made out to "Stony Brook University" and sent to 'The Clifford Swartz Fund' in care of Pam Burris, Assistant to the Chair, Physics and Astronomy Department, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800.
SUNY StonyBrook will honor him during a Colloquium on December 7. Arthur Eisenkraft, a former student, will give the address. http://astro.sunysb.edu/mzingale/colloquia/colloquia_AY1011/
Timothy L. Battista, August 7, 2010
Timothy Louis Battista, 56, died Saturday, August 7, 2010 at Hospice of the Western Reserve.
A 1972 graduate of Ashtabula High School, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Education from Malone College and his Master's from Youngstown State University. He had also taken numerous courses since then to further his education.
A science teacher at Riverside High School in Painesville for the past 25 years, he taught AP Physics, Physics, Chemistry, and General Science. He loved being a teacher and thrived on working with the advanced kids who really wanted to learn. He was voted into the #1 Club at Riverside on numerous occasions, an honor of recognition from graduating Riverside students who choose their favorite teacher during their educational career.
Tim was a long time member of AAPT and the Ohio Section of AAPT. He served for many years as a Physics Teachers Resource Agent (PTRA). Read the obituary at http://www.ducro.com/cgi-bin/ducro_obits_2009.pl?ID=1281292170&detail=1&Style.
Lawrence Ruby, May 13, 2010
We share with Oregon AAPT the sad news that Lawrence (Larry) Ruby has passed away. Larry served as ORAAPT treasurer and historian for many years.
Most recently Larry was the person who put together all the paperwork to make ORAAPT a 501(c)3 organization several years ago which, in turn, made the ORAAPT Summer Cohort this summer possible.
Lawrence Ruby was born July 25, 1925, in Detroit, Mich. He married Judith Friedberg in 1951. Larry earned his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and his doctorate in physics from University of California at Los Angeles in 1945, 1947 and 1951 respectively. He was a professor of nuclear engineering at University of California at Berkeley from 1960 to 1987. Larry and Judith then moved to Lake Oswego where Larry continued to teach at Portland-area colleges. He was also active in his community and served on the Lake Oswego Planning Commission. He will be missed by his family, colleagues, and friends.
David Halliday, April 2, 2010
David Halliday died in Maple Falls, Washington at the age of 94. An Emeritus member of AAPT, David was best known to the physics community because of his undergraduate textbook, "Fundamentals of Physics." This textbook has been in continuous use since 1960 and is available in twenty languages. Halliday spent the bulk of his career at the University of Pittsburgh where he was both student and professor, not to mention researcher and administrator. At the time of his death Halliday was still associated with the University of Pittsburgh as a professor emeritus, although he was retired and living in Seattle. Learn more about David Halliday from the University of Pittsburgh profile at http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/people/fprofile.php?id=156.
Kelly Gamble Casey, April 2, 2010
The northwest physics teaching community is mourning the death and celebrating the life of Kelly Casey, the sole full-time physics teacher of Yakima Valley Community College. Kelly was a healthy and active young man. He fell on his head in a tragic racquetball accident, languishing in a coma for weeks before passing away a earlier this month. Kelley was a creative and energetic physics instructor (he taught a course on the physics of superheroes) as well as the executive officer of the Pacific Northwest Association of College Physicists. He was fondly remembered at the PNACP meeting last weekend. He will be missed.
Howard Glenn Voss, March 29, 2010
The physics community paused to remember the life and service of former AAPT President and Arizona State University professor emeritus, Howard Glenn Voss who passed away March 29, 2010. Voss served in many roles including as founder and firector of the ASU Physics Service Course Facility, department chair, advisor, mentor, lecturer, and countless other university roles. His service to national scientific societies, in addition to AAPT, is also storied and brought him into close personal friendships with many Nobel Prize winning physicists. Although not a research physicist himself, Voss gave valuable service to the American Institute of Physics, on its governing Board, Publishing Policy Committee, and many other boards and committees.
Voss was an active member of the Arizona Section of AAPT, mentoring and inspiring teachers at both the high school and college level. His leadership qualities led to his election to the AAPT Executive Board in 1983 and to the presidential chain leading to his AAPT presidency in 1994. He was presented an AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 1990 and AAPT's prestigious Melba Phillips Award in 1999. Read the ASU tribute at http://physics.asu.edu/files/newsletter/Physics_Flash_Vol_2_%20No_3.pdf. Physics Today obituary.
Lawrence Edison Banks, Jr.- January 6, 2010
Born in Lawton, OK, Banks received his B.S. and Ph.D from the University of Oklahoma. He became one of two physics faculty members in the "Science Department" of, then, Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) in 1961. In 1968 he became head of the new "Physical Science" Department and, upon its division in 1972, he became the first Head of the Department of Physics. During his tenure the Department developed a strong physics major, an Astronomy minor, and a masters degree in materials science. Its faculty expanded to 15 members. In 1994 he became Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, from which he retired in 2006.
Banks was a dedicated teacher and was active in guiding undergraduate students in research projects. These included early work with lasers leading to the development of a holography laboratory. He was an enthusiastic student of the application of computers in physics and developed an early course on their use. This eventually led, in cooperation with the Mathematics Department, to the creation of a new Computer Science Department. He was also an active supporter of the education of teachers in the sciences and aided in the development of a special physics course for pre-secondary teachers. In 2000 he was awarded the"Distinguished Service Award" from the Science Teachers of Missouri. He was a longtime member of AAPT and active in the Missouri Section from almost its inception, serving several times as President.
Dr. Richard Vincent Mancuso - December 15, 2009
The physics community joins SUNY Brockport in mourning the loss of Richard V. Mancuso, PhD, physics emeritus, who died on Tuesday, December 15, after serving the College with distinction since 1969. An active member of AAPT since 1993,he was one of the absolute stalwarts of the New York section, who has done a tremendous amount to advance physics education in New York.Dr. Mancusoalso served as a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Physics in Education. We extend our deepest sympathy to the Mancuso family. http://www.brockport.edu/eagle/view_item.php?id=346
Dr. James Watson, Jr. - December 2, 2009
Professor James Watson, Jr. passed away on December 2, 2009 after a long battle with cancer. He was an active member of AAPT and will be remembered for his dedication to science education.
Roy H. Garstang, November 1, 2009
Dr. Roy H. Garstang, Ph.D., 84, retired CU Professor of Physics and Astrophysics, and former Chair of JILA (Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado) died Sunday, November 1, 2009, in Boulder, Colorado. An Emeritus AAPT member, Roy Garstang was educated in mathematics at Cambridge University, and he spent many hours discussing both astronomy and Cambridge with Chandrasekhar at Yerkes Observatory in 1951-52. A professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of Colorado from 1964-94, he has worked on atomic spectroscopy, solar spectroscopy, atoms in high magnetic fields, light pollution modeling, and sundial errors. Roy Garstang's tremendous early assistance to IDA, both morally and scientifically, was essential to IDA's initial credibility and growth. His pioneering models on light pollution remain valuable references in the quantification of light pollution.
George Patsakos - October 27, 2009
Emeritus Professor George Patsakos, who retired 2 years ago, passed away on October 27, 2009. His immediate family was with him at the end. George first joined AAPT in 1973. Born in New York City in 1942 to Greek immigrants parents, George grew up in Brooklyn and attended James Madison High School. He graduated from Columbia University and earned his PhD in Physics from Stanford University.
Patsakos was a professor in the Physics Dept. of the University of Idaho for many years, and retired two years ago. He was liked and respected by his students and peers. A true scholar with a very sharp mind., he helped everyone with his great intellect and very broad knowledge of physics. As a contemporary physicist, he personally met the founding fathers of modern physics such as Heisenberg, Oppenheimer, and Dirac, and roomed with Richard P. Feynman and often entertained the University of Idaho Physics Department with anecdotes of his meetings with these great minds. At a Remembrance Service held 11/5/09 Geroge was remembered as a great physicist, a broad thinking and warm and gentle human being.
Richard Stephen Galik - October 23, 2009
Cornell University Professor, and long time AAPT member, Richard S. Galik passed away on October 23, 2009. Galik joined the Physics Department at Cornell in 1992. He was a member of the New York State Section of the American Physical Society and an APS Fellow. Galik's was part of the CLEO collaboration which uses data collected at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) to study electron-positron interactions. He participated in the group's efforts in the areas of b/anti-b and c/anti-c resonance spectroscopy and decay. He also worked on R&D for the particle detector of the proposed International Linear Collider. A strong supporter of physics education and a mentor to his students, Galik leaves a legacy of growth and dedication.
Dr. E. Leonard Jossem - August 29, 2009
E. Leonard Jossem, age 90, of Columbus, passed away Saturday, August 29, 2009 at The Ohio State University Hospital. Jossem was a former AAPT President and Retired Professor Emeritus of the Physics Department at The Ohio State University.
Dr. Laird C. Brodie - July 31, 2009
AAPT joins members of the Oregon Section in celebrating the life and contributions of Laird C. Brodie who died on July 31, 2009. Brodie was Professor Emeritus with the Portland State University Department of Physics. He first joined AAPT in 1958 and remained an active member and contributor to the Association throughout his life.
Betty Preece - May 17, 2009
College Park, MD, May 27, 2009. The physics community and AAPT lost a friend and advocate on May 17 with the death of Betty Preece of Indialantic, FL. A long-time member of AAPT, Betty was recognized for her years of dedicated service with a Distinguished Service Citation in 1997. She served on many committees, including the Committee on Minorities, the Committee on Women in Physics, and the Committee on International Education.
Laszlo Tisza, April 15, 2009
AAPT Emeritus member and MIT physics professor emeritus, Laszlo Tisza died on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. He was 101. He was an expert in quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.
Tisza, born in 1907 in Budapest, immigrated to the United States in 1941 and joined the MIT faculty. He taught at MIT until 1973, specializing in theoretical physics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics. He joined AAPT in 1980 and was an ardent supporter of AAPT programs. Read the MIT article at http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/obit-tisza-0416.html.
Dr. Kenneth Edward Davis - February 23, 2009
Former AAPT President, Kenneth E. Davis, died in Portland, Oregon on February 23, 2009 of heart failure. Dr. Davis served as AAPT President from 1976-1977. He was recognized with the AAPT Distinguished Service Citation in 1963 for his six years of service as Section Representative for the Oregon Section of AAPT.