I served as the Chair of the Austin College Physics Department from 1996 to 2005.
My current research activity is in classical and quantum theories of gravity, the history of general relativity, the history of quantum gravity, and the history of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. In the past few years I have been fortunate to be able to research and develop courses dealing with the emergence of modern science, initially focusing primarily on Galileo. More recently, in conjunction with research I have been undertaking on Peter Bergmann and his illustrious family, I have taught two January term courses, in 2009 and 2011, on Jewish German intellectuals in the first few decades of the twentieth century in addition to doing a related Freshman orientation course in September 2009. Some of the material from these courses found their way into a course called Global Science, Technology, and Society 250 that I either taught or co-taught since we initiated it in the Spring of 2010 through 2016. This is the only required course in the Global Science, Technology and Society minor. Partners included English professor Carol Daeley, Economics professor Danny Nuckols and religion professor Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan. Danny Nuckols and I were Co-Directors of the program.
Grants from the National Science Foundation 9211953, 9413063, enabled me in the past to support summer undergraduate participation on computer calculations in relativity at the Center for Relativity of the University of Texas at Austin, where I was for several summers appointed a Visiting Scholar. In the summer of 2004 I collaborated with AC students Allison Schmitz and Josh Helpert on campus with the support of an Austin College Priddy Grant. The results of this research on observables in a simple cosmological model have been published in the journal General Relativity and Gravitation. In the summer of 2006 Andy Dao worked with me on the development of Java-based simulations that was intended to be incorporated into an on-line introductory textbook on cosmology. Mason Anders completed an Honors thesis in 2009 under my direction dealing with differences in the notion of time that have arisen in my research with Josep Pons and Kurt Sundermeyer. Jessica Smith’s thesis in 2010 dealt with a topic in the history of quantum mechanics, Paul Dirac’s initial efforts in constructing a relativistic model of Compton scattering. In 2011 Daniel Hook focused in his thesis on a new pedagogical approach to Robertson-Walker cosmology. More recently, in 2015, Amy Anderson completed a thesis that began to incorporate a curvature-based notion of time in the treatment of colliding general relativistic plane waves.
I have conducted summer research at the University of Barcelona, the University of Florence, the University of Maryland, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. I have been fortunate to be able to spend sabbatical semesters at the latter institute, the University of Texas at Austin, and Syracuse University.
The Department of Physics at Austin College has a history of innovation in physics teaching. The most recent development was the award of a grant from the Education Division of the National Science Foundation to assist in configuring a computer-based laboratory-classroom for introductory physics and astronomy. I served as a Co-Principal Investigator on the project .
I taught most of the courses in our Austin College physics curriculum. I was a frequent contributor to the former Heritage of Western Culture core. My teaching schedule over many years can be found here.
I was for many years the organizer of a regional colloquium, the
North Texas Relativity and Cosmology Seminar, that met mainly at
the University of Texas at Dallas. I have served as an elected
Physics/Astronomy Councilor of the national Council on
Undergraduate Research and I functioned for a year as the
physics/astronomy Associate Editor of the Council's Quarterly
I served 2016 - 2019 as an elected member of the Executive
Committee of the American Association of Physics Forum on the
History of Physics.
January Term courses, in 2003, 2005, and 2007 were devoted to: The Life and Times of Galileo: the Origins of Modern Science (in Florence, Pisa, Siena, Padua, Venice, and Rome - Italy). In January 2013 I shifted the historical focus to ancient Greek and Chinese science, and this was also a significant component of the Freshman orientation course I offered in the Fall of 2014, and I subsequently partnered with Austin College religion professor Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan in offering three versions of Global Science, Technology and Society 250 focusing in part on the history of science, astronomy, and mathematics in China. Other January term courses have included the Astronomy of Ancient America, an introduction to scientific computing in C, Mesoamerican astronomy, and introductions to relativity and cosmology. In 2016, I shared responsibility with Julie Hempel in a Spanish language January term in Querétaro, Mexico. One of my responsibilities was to lead on-site tours of astronomically related archaeological sites - in Mexico City, Xochitécatl, Cholula, Teotihuacán, and Plazuelas. (In Querétero I also gave two popular-level lectures at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, one in the anthropology department called Astronomica Azteca, mitología, y calendarios festivos and another sponsored by the departments of philosophy and of physics entitled Existe el espacio-tiempo en la teoría de Einstein?
Besides my wide interests within the physics discipline, I try to maintain skills in Spanish, French, German and Italian.
My Curriculum Vitae is available here (with links to many of
my papers and presentations).
Last Update June 23, 2020