posted January 2, 2013

Paul DeYoung Elected Fellow of American Physical Society

Dr. Paul DeYoung of the Hope College physics faculty has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

He is one of 250 Fellows elected for 2012, and one of only four nominated through the society’s Forum on Education, chosen “For his strong and sustained leadership of facilitating research opportunities to enhance undergraduate education.”  This year’s Fellows are from around the world and work in higher education, major research laboratories and industry.

The recognition is a second major national honor to DeYoung from the society, which in 2001 presented him with its “Prize to a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution.”

“Professor DeYoung is an esteemed colleague and an outstanding teacher-scholar, and we are proud of his accomplishments,” said Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences at Hope.  “Being elected an APS Fellow is a major recognition of his decades-long contribution to cutting-edge physics research while enhancing undergraduate physics and science education through research.”

“This recognition is a direct reflection of the Natural and Applied Sciences Division’s Vision 20/20 strategic plan, and that is to raise the academic excellence to a higher and uncharted level,” Lee said.  “I am thankful to the physics community for highlighting the importance of undergraduate research and its centrality to effective teaching in physics.”

DeYoung, who is the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Physics at Hope, noted that he’s grateful to have been recognized by his peers for doing well something that he loves doing:  teaching students—at Hope and elsewhere—about physics through involvement in original research.

“It’s been great fun to do this,” said DeYoung, who has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1985 and conducts research in nuclear physics.  “I think I would do this no matter what, but it is nice that you can come in every day and you do what you do, and then recognition comes along as a result of that.”

He co-leads the college’s “nuclear group,” through which students and faculty conduct research collaboratively in nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, with Dr. Graham Peaslee, who is the Elmer E. Hartgerink Professor of Chemistry and professor of geology/environmental science at Hope.  In addition to working with Hope students, they have connected with undergraduate students from several other institutions through the college’s participation in a multi-school consortium collaborating to build and use a pair of neutron detectors, dubbed “MoNA-LISA,” housed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University.

DeYoung joined the faculty as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and to professor in 1997, and was appointed to the Kenneth G. Herrick professorship in 2005.  Among other service to Hope, he was chairperson of the department of physics from 1995 to 2004.

In February 2011, the college’s division for the natural and applied sciences recognized him and Peaslee for their work with that year’s “James N. Boelkins Natural and Applied Sciences Division Research Award.”

More than 60 Hope students have worked with DeYoung on research projects over the years. They have gone on to careers in a variety of scientific areas. Former students are now researchers, college and university teachers, doctors, engineers and high school teachers, and several are employed at high-tech companies.

His research has received continuous support, totaling more than $2 million, since 1985 from agencies including the National Science Foundation, Research Corporation and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. His work has resulted in more than 80 journal articles and more than 80 presentations at professional conferences.

He graduated from Hope summa cum laude in 1977. He completed his doctorate at the University of Notre Dame in 1982, and subsequently conducted research at the Nuclear Structure Laboratory, SUNY-Stony Brook, before returning to Hope to teach.

The American Physical Society is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.  Founded in 1899, APA represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world.