Jan TobochnikJan Tobochnik to Receive AAPT 2017 Oersted Medal 


College Park, MD, September 28, 2016—Jan Tobochnik has been named as the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The Medal will be awarded at a Ceremonial Session of the 2017 AAPT Winter Meeting, in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Oersted Medal recognizes his outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics through his contributions to the use of computer simulations to motivate active learning.  In connection with the award, Tobochnik will deliver a talk on "The Changing Face of Physics and the Students Who Take Physics" at the Atlanta meeting.

Tobochnik graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1975 with a major in physics. He then went to Cornell University where in 1980 he obtained a Ph.D. in Physics.

Tobochnik joined the faculty at Kalamazoo College in 1985 where he currently holds the position of Dow Distinquished Professor in the Natural Sciences.

Within the physics community, Tobochnik is well known for his series of texts written with Harvey Gould that cover computer simulation methods at the introductory level and statistical and thermal physics at the intermediate level. In the early 1990's he was a practitioner of active learning methods, long before it became fashionable, and was busy developing software to assist student learning. Tobochnik's fluency in computational methods especially in the service of advanced thermal and statistical physics research has informed dozens of publications in refereed journals,columns in Computers in Physics, and a second textbook with Harvey Gould, Statistical and Thermal Physics With Computer Applications, the first book being An Introduction to Computer Simulation Methods: Applications to Physical Systems with co-authors Harvey Gould and Wolfgang Christian which is now in its third edition. He has also provided important professional services including co-editing the first ever theme issue of the American Journal of Physics (AJP), co-creating the Gordon Conference on Physics Research and Education series and co-chairing its first conference, co-editing the Computer Simulations section of Computers in Physics, and above all else, he had a successful ten-year stint (2001-2011) as the Editor of American Journal of Physics (AJP). 

Tobochnik has served on several AAPT committees, more recently, he has been a member of the AJP Resource Letter Advisory Board. He was also a Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters (2001-2006).

Tobochnik has received numerous awards, including the AAPT Homer L. Dodge Distinguished Service Citation, Fellow of AAPT, and Fellow of the American Physical Society.

About the Award


The Oersted Medal is named for Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), a Danish physicist who, in the course of creating a demonstration for teaching his class, discovered that electric currents cause a magnetic field. This was a crucial step in establishing the theory of electromagnetism so important in building modern technology and modern physics. The award was established by AAPT in 1936 and is given annually to a person who has had outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics.Some previous Oersted award winners are John Winston Belcher, Karl Mamola, Dean Zollman, George F. Smoot, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Carl Wieman, Lillian McDermott, Hans Bethe, Carl E. Sagan, Edward Purcell, and Richard Feynman. The complete list of recipients can be found at http://www.aapt.org/Programs/awards/oersted.cfm.


About AAPT
AAPT is the premier professional society established to advance the greater good through physics education. With the support of members worldwide, AAPT is an action oriented organization designed to develop, improve, and promote best practices for physics education as part of the global need for qualified Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teachers who will inspire tomorrow's leaders and decision makers. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

For more information contact David Wolfe, Director of Communications, dwolfe@aapt.org, (301) 209-3327, (301) 209-0845 (Fax), www.aapt.org.