Professor Emeritus Linda Barton honored for laboratory instruction by American Physical Society
APS names Barton the 2021 Jonathan F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award recipient
A Rochester Institute of Technology professor has been recognized by the American Physical Society for excellence in laboratory instruction. Professor Emeritus Linda Barton is the 2021 recipient of the Jonathan F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction.
In its citation, APS recognized Barton “for dedicated and sustained development of the college junior year physics laboratory course sequence, for notable contributions to pedagogical approaches and materials in support of advanced labs in the physics curriculum, and for instilling a passion for experimental physics in students.” The award is given to honor outstanding achievement in teaching, sustaining (for at least four years), and enhancing an advanced undergraduate laboratory course or courses at U.S. institutions.
“Throughout my time at RIT, my major effort was in the development, teaching, and ongoing delivery of laboratory courses for our physics majors,” said Barton. “Physics is an experimental science. For me, helping students learn how to measure physical phenomena, and analyze and understand both their data and their instrumentation, was always the most rewarding and fun part of my work. I was surprised, and absolutely delighted, to hear that I’d won this award.”
Barton received her BS in physics from MIT in 1978, where she worked for several years at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Lab. She completed her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984, with an experimental thesis on critical phenomena of dilute ferromagnets. Following graduate school, Barton went to the research labs of Eastman Kodak, where she worked on development of magnetic materials for magnetic recording.
In 1996, she joined the faculty at RIT in the School of Physics and Astronomy. At RIT, she focused her teaching efforts on several curricular initiatives. The largest effort has been the ongoing development and delivery of a yearlong junior-level laboratory sequence for undergraduate physics majors. She was also heavily involved in the generation of curricular materials for hands-on, workshop-based instruction for introductory electrodynamics, and in the implementation of a mandatory senior capstone research program for all physics majors. She maintained a small experimental research effort in novel magnetic materials, staffed solely with undergraduates. Prior to her retirement in late 2019, she was a member of AAPT, IEEE, the IEEE Magnetics Society, and the APS.
“Dr. Barton is an extremely skilled experimental physicist who, over the years, has invested a majority of her efforts as a faculty member towards the key developments in our department’s junior-level laboratory sequence required for all physics majors,” said Michael Kotlarchyk, head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. “She was the single driving force for implementing a complete overhaul of the core experimental physics curriculum for RIT physics majors that we are proud to currently offer. She was the key catalyst for all aspects of this initiative and, without her single-minded dedication to this long-term vision, I am certain that the experimental training RIT physics majors receive in our program today would not have come about.”
Additional information about the award is available on the APS website.