Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Robert L. Sells Scholarship

The Robert L. Sells Scholarship is awarded annually to two Rutgers physics majors who, in the judgment of the physics faculty, have demonstrated outstanding academic excellence. The scholarship was established by an anonymous donor in honor of Robert L. Sells, who was a professor of physics at Rutgers. The scholarship winners are announced at the Departmental Awards Banquet in April, sponsored by the Rutgers Society of Physics Students .

A photograph of Prof. Sells is shown above. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

Robert L. Sells (1925-2000)

Biographical sketch contributed by Pat Sells and Paul Leath

Robert L. "Duke" Sells was born in Lancaster, Ohio in 1925. He received his B.S. degree in 1948 from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in 1953 from the University of Notre Dame. Sells was a theoretical physicist who worked in several areas of atomic, nuclear, and solid state physics. But he was especially known as an outstanding teacher. Early on, he taught a very popular graduate course in mathematical physics, but later he made many contributions to the undergraduate program in physics. Perhaps he was best known nationally as the coauthor, with Richard Weidner, of the textbook "Elementary Modern Physics" which for many years was the most widely used textbook in the U.S. for calculus-based introductory physics for engineering students. He also established the New Jersey Chapter of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). From 1959 through 1964 he directed National Science Foundation Summer Institutes for physics teachers at Rutgers.

Professor Sells resigned from Rutgers in 1963 to accept a position as chair of the physics department at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he stayed until his retirement in 1987. He was the first professor at Geneseo to be named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. While at Geneseo, he served as New York State's regional counselor for the AAPT and the American Institute of Physics. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Citation by the AAPT in 1969 in recognition of his teaching ability and his participation in special projects to foster improved physics teaching at the college and high school levels. In addition, he received the Centennial of Science Award from Notre Dame in 1965 for distinction in the fields of scientific research, education, management, and technology.

Professor Sells died on May 30, 2000 after a long illness.

Winners of the Robert L. Sells Scholarship

2001-02Jesse CunhaJohn McClain  
2002-03Robert FriedmanKent Horvath  
2003-04Tamer ElkholySteven Cavanaugh  
2004-05Emily BjonnesMatthew Klimek  
2005-06Anthony BarkerChristine Hsieh  
2006-07Pablo MosteiroJavier Sanchez  
2007-08Jack HansonDavid Ruffner  
2008-09Jordan LedvinaHou Keong Lou  
2009-10Tyler GordaEdward Lochocki  
2010-11Steve SiriskyAaron Rosenberg  
2011-12Samia BouzidKelvin Mei  
2012-13Eric WilliamsDavid Kolchmeyer  
2013-14Lavi BlumbergPeter Chi Vetri Velan
2014-15Andrew LeungTaylor Smith Aditya Parikh
2015-16Vedant SachdevaAlexander Sandberg John Tamanas
2016-17Viktor KrapivinMichael McNulty Vedant Sachdeva

Photographs from Awards Banquets

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

Joan Stafford, the sister of Robert Sells, and scholarship winners John McClain (left) and Jesse Cunha (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 12, 2001.
Scholarship winners Robert Friedman (left) and Kent Horvath (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 16, 2002.
Scholarship winners Tamer Elkholy (left) and Steven Cavanaugh (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 22, 2003.
Scholarship winners Emily Bjonnes (left) and Matthew Klimek (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 20, 2004.
Scholarship winners Anthony Barker (left) and Christine Hsieh (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 26, 2005.
Scholarship winners Pablo Mosteiro (left) and Javier Sanchez (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 18, 2006.
Scholarship winners Jack Hanson (left) and David Ruffner (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 24, 2007.
Scholarship winners Jordan Ledvina (left) and Hou Keong Lou (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 29, 2008.
Scholarship winners Tyler Gorda (left) and Edward Lochocki (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 21, 2009.
Scholarship winners Steve Sirisky (left) and Aaron Rosenberg (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 27, 2010.
Scholarship winners Samia Bouzid (left) and Kelvin Mei (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 26, 2011.
Scholarship winners Eric Williams (left) and David Kolchmeyer (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 17, 2012.
Scholarship winners Lavi Blumberg (left), Peter Chi (middle), and Vetri Velan (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 23, 2013.
Scholarship winners Andrew Leung (left), Taylor Smith (middle), and Aditya Parikh (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 22, 2014.
Scholarship winners Vedant Sachdeva (left), Alexander Sandberg (middle), and John Tamanas (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 21, 2015.
Scholarship winners Viktor Krapivin (left), Michael McNulty (middle), and Vedant Sachdeva (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 19, 2016.

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