Professor of Physics & Chemistry, Chair of Physics Department
F21 Class of 2000
After being born in Queens, NY and growing up on Long Island, I went to Pennsylvania and earned an AB from Lafayette College in 1977. Returning to Long Island, I earned my PhD in 1982 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook where the topic of my dissertation was polymer statics and dynamics using quasi-elastic light scattering. After spending a year at the University of Hartford as a visiting assistant Professor, I moved to Lubbock, TX, to become a R.A. Welch Postdoctoral Fellow at the Picosecond and Quantum Radiation Laboratory of Texas Tech University (1983 – 85). My research involved investigating the effects of solvent dynamics on cis-trans isomerization as well as electron and proton transfer reactions. In 1985 I joined the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute where I was an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department. That being a very unhappy experience and I vowed to leave academics forever. It was that experience that, in later years, made me a strong proponent of mentoring untenured faculty.
I left for Albuquerque, NM in 1987, where I worked as a Research Chemist (1987 -1989) and as a Research Physicist (1989 -1993) at the Nonlinear Optics Center of Excellence of the Air Force Phillips Laboratory (now the Air Force Research Laboratory). At the Air Force laboratory I was engaged in nonlinear optics and laser science research. While at the Air Force laboratory, I began to advise PhD students from the University of New Mexico. Within a short time I found myself at the University, teaching evening sections of Introductory and Modern Physics. It was time to return to the academy, (so much for vows).
Interested mainly in a position at a Liberal Arts college, where I could dedicate some of my energies to working on pedagogy, I joined the Allegheny faculty in 1993. I was hired as an Associate Professor, with a joint appointment in both the Chemistry and Physics Departments, earning tenure the Spring of 2000. During the 2001-02 academic year, I was a Fulbright Scholar in Budapest, Hungary, working at the Research Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. There I studied the optical properties liquid crystals doped with trace amount of dye. That same year I was promoted to the rank of Professor. Since then, I have returned to the Research Institute in Budapest every summer, bringing undergraduate students with me (this is where my interest in global dimensions comes in). In 2004 I became Chair of the Physics Department. I am a member of the Faculty for the Twenty First Century (Project Kaleidoscope), and the Optical Society of America. I have also published more than a few articles with undergraduate student co-authors in the Journal of the Optical Society, Optics Communications, Journal of Chemical Physics, Physical Review, Journal of Applied Physics, and Review of Scientific Instruments.
Finally, I have two wonderful sons; both are attending Liberal Arts colleges. My wife, Melissa, is a High School Physics and Chemistry teacher. To keep us company, now that the nest is empty, are our dogs; Shayna, an eleven year-old sprightly golden retriever, and Nandi, a four year-old bernese mountain dog, whose elevator really does go to the top…he just prefers to take the stairs.