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AAPT Member & Physics Community Obituaries

  • 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 (dmgul@umich.edu), 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. 
    See the video& in theScience Makers Video Archive
    Read more in the Baltimre Sun...
  • 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 Todayobituary.
  • 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.

    Read Dr. Watson's Obituary [BSU.edu]

  • 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.

    Read his obituary from the Optical Society of America.

  • 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.
  • Read the AAPT Obituary & Press Release

  • 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.
    Read "Honoring the Life and Work of Science Educator, Betty Preece" Press Release
  • 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.
    Read the article "Meet your new AAPT president: Kenneth Davis" from the February, 1976 issue of The Physics Teacher.