John Brandenberger

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Retired Lawrence University Physicist Receives National Recognition for Contributions to Science Education

David Cook, professor emeritus of physics at Lawrence University, has been elected a Fellow in the American Physical Society for his contributions to physics education in America.

The fellowship program recognizes members who have made “exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise through outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics or significant contributions to physics education.”  Fellow selection represents significant recognition by one’s professional peers and is highly selective, limited to no more than one-half of one percent of the organization’s more than 50,000 members.

Professor Emeritus David Cook

Cook, who retired as Philetus E. Sawyer Professor of Science in 2008 after 43 years of teaching in the Lawrence physics department, joins his long-time colleague Professor Emeritus John Brandenberger as the only two physicists at Lawrence ever honored as a Fellow by the APS.

In announcing his Fellow status, the APS cited Cook for “the prominent roles he has played in developing and disseminating outstanding computational elements for undergraduate physics courses, in building an exemplary undergraduate physics program and in executive leadership of the American Association of Physics Teachers.”

“Professor Cook has long been a leader in physics education,” said David Burrows, provost and dean of the faculty. “He combines a friendly supportive manner with an insistence on high standards of achievement and tireless energy. He helped build the physics department at Lawrence into an outstanding model for scholarship and teaching at liberal learning institutions.”

Cook served as president of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the country’s premier national organization and authority on physics and physical science education, in 2010, becoming the first Lawrence faculty member ever to serve in that capacity and the first from any Wisconsin college or university since 1955.

During his more-than-four decade teaching career at Lawrence, Cook taught nearly every undergraduate physics course while leading the development and incorporation of computers into the physics curriculum. Beginning in 1985, he designed and built Lawrence’s computational physics laboratory with the support of more than $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, Research Corporation, the W. M. Keck Foundation and other sources.

Cook is the author of two textbooks, “The Theory of the Electromagnetic Field,” one of the first to introduce computer-based numerical approaches alongside traditional approaches and “Computation and Problem Solving in Undergraduate Physics.” He was recognized with Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1990.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

$23,000 Grant Boosts Lawrence University Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A $23,000 grant will support Lawrence University’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship program, a university-wide initiative launched in 2008 that engages students, faculty and alumni.

The two-year grant from the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance will target the program’s flagship course “In Pursuit of Innovation.”  Cross-taught through Lawrence’s economics and physics departments, the course incorporates the use of guest experts from various fields, intertwines innovation with entrepreneurship and employs a project-driven, hands-on component designed to develop a learning community eager to pursue innovative and entrepreneurial ventures.

Since its launch, 41 students have taken the “Innovation” course.  Operating in three-person teams and in conjunction with the FabLab, a prototyping facility at Fox Valley Technical College, students have worked on projects ranging from the development of a multi-directional split-field camera and an ergonomic student desk to a hand sanitizing system for hospitals and schools and a personal identification system that allows health records to be retrieved automatically in the event of an accident.

“From its inception, our course has focused on diverse teams creating innovative products or processes, leading to functioning prototypes,” said Adam Galambos, assistant professor of economics and one of the program’s originators, along with John Brandenberger, professor emeritus of physics and Marty Finkler, professor of economics.  “This grant will enable us to take the Innovation course to a whole new level with student ‘E-teams,’ which will translate ideas into new products or services that benefit society.

“With its long-standing commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, Lawrence is the ideal setting for a program that inspires students and faculty to create innovative new ventures that combine ideas from diverse backgrounds, fields and perspectives,” Galambos added.

The “Innovation” course is designed to prepare Lawrence students to become major contributors to a globally competitive American economy through an immersion in innovation and entrepreneurship.  Students in the course develop their own innovative ideas to lay the groundwork for entrepreneurial ventures, examine how innovation and entrepreneurship invigorate businesses and industries and their roles in creating new ones, study the innovation and entrepreneurship literature and interact with active, successful innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Our students learn to connect theory with the real-world experiences described by our visiting experts and to apply this learning to their own projects,” said Brandenberger.

The impetus for Lawrence’s “In Pursuit of Innovation” course was a highly-influential national publication entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” and a bipartisan piece of legislation leading to the 2007 America Competes Act, both of which warned of slippage in American competitiveness worldwide. The studies pointed toward increased emphasis on innovative and entrepreneurial effectiveness, especially in scientific, technological and engineering pursuits, as one solution to reverse the trend.

In addition to “In Pursuit of Innovation,” courses such as “Entrepreneurship and
Financial Markets ” and “Entrepreneurship in the Arts and Society” also are part of the effort to build an innovation and entrepreneurship program at Lawrence.

Based in Massachusetts, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education to create experiential learning opportunities for students and socially beneficial businesses.