Thomas D. Rossing

Thomas D. Rossing - Obituary

Thomas D. Rossing, 93, teacher, mentor, researcher, and author, passed away on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in West Lafayette, IN. Tom was a staunch supporter of physics and acoustics education at all levels. While at Northern Illinois University, he hosted many teacher workshops and ran summer courses for high school physics teachers. He was active in the Illinois and Chicago sections of the AAPT. In 1991 Tom served as national president of the AAPT. His dedication to physics and acoustics education was further demonstrated through the endowment of the Rossing scholarship for physics majors at Lutheran colleges and universities, the endowment of a fund for the Illinois Section of AAPT to sponsor invited speakers to joint section meetings, and a gift to the ASA Foundation establishing the Rossing Prize, an award that recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions toward furthering acoustics education.

Tom's contributions to musical acoustics included research on the acoustics of percussion instruments, most notably the timpani, the Caribbean steelpan, and bells. He was a prolific writer. He authored or coauthored 12 books, mostly on acoustics or musical acoustics. He was also co-author of a textbook called "Light Science" for use in a class on the physics of the visual arts. He was the author or co-author of hundreds of scientific papers on topics in condensed matter physics, musical acoustics, and physics education. Many of his contributions to The Physics Teacher are as relevant today as when he wrote them1-3.

Tom was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Acoustical Society of America's Gold Medal in Acoustics and the Silver Medal in Musical Acoustics. The American Association of Physics Teachers also awarded him the Millikan medal (now known as the Lillian McDermott Award). He was a fellow of four professional societies: the Acoustical Society of America, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and IEEE.

Initially our teacher and mentor, Tom became a good friend and colleague. We have many fond memories of Friday evening dinners at his home with colloquium speakers or visitors to his lab. We will be forever grateful for his friendship and the support he gave us throughout the many years we had the privilege of studying and collaborating with him. He changed our lives in so many positive ways. We are pleased to have this opportunity to say, "thank you, Tom."


David Wolfe

Director of Communications