Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Richard T. Weidner Physics Prize

The Richard T. Weidner Prize is awarded annually to one or more Rutgers undergraduates who, in the judgment of the physics faculty, have demonstrated outstanding academic performance in physics. The Prize was established in 1977 by anonymous donors in honor of Prof. Richard T. Weidner and his wife. Prof. Weidner was a distinguished physics faculty member at Rutgers for 41 years. The prizewinners are announced at the Departmental Awards Banquet in April, sponsored by the Rutgers Society of Physics Students .

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

Richard T. Weidner (1921-2000)

Biographical sketch contributed by Peter Lindenfeld and Christopher Weidner

Richard T. Weidner, born in Allentown PA, was a summa cum laude graduate and valedictorian of Muhlenberg College Class of 1943. He served in the U.S. Navy as a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, and received a Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1948, where he was instructor. He joined the Rutgers Physics Department in 1947, and remained until his retirement in 1988. He was twice Executive Officer of the Department, and later Associate Dean and Acting Dean of Rutgers College.

During the first part of his career he was active in research in electron-spin resonance and became a recognized expert in this field. In 1960 he published his first textbook-- Elementary Modern Physics with R. L. Sells. It filled an important, and until then unmet need, soon became widely known, was translated into several languages, and established him as a successful author. It was followed by a series of further texts with Sells, one with H.Y. Carr, and later Physics under his own name. He served as thesis supervisor for seven graduate students who earned PhDs in physics, and was known as an outstanding teacher. He received the Lindback Award for distinguished teaching in 1984, and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award of the Society of Physics Students in 1988.

He was for many years a member and then president of the Bridgewater-Raritan School District Board of Education. He was an active member of his local Lutheran congregation, and supported Lutheran Campus Ministry at Rutgers. Throughout his life he performed as a serious amateur on trumpet, playing with the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra and other community orchestras. He was an avid enthusiast of big band jazz, and became the Associate Editor and a columnist of the Journal of the International Trumpet Guild.

From Richard Weidner's writings

I came to see that there really are no secrets to being a good teacher. There is but one basic requirement-- that you believe passionately in the value of what you are teaching and that, with continuous self-examination and -criticism, you become sensitive to whether you are succeeding...

One other element is crucial, I believe, especially for physics. It is to point out to the students, regularly, sensitively, powerfully what I have come to call the "message of physics": the universe does make sense, with just a few basic ideas of great power, and it is truly astonishing that we mere mortals can actually see how things are put together, how they work. The most exquisite moments of my teaching career have always come when I've told some anecdote or application that ended with my saying something like, "See, that's the message of physics!" Such moments were charged with an almost transcendent energy, as a hush falls, and we are all for a moment-- students (at least some) and lecturer alike-- lost in wonder.

Winners of the Richard T. Weidner Physics Prize

1978Alfred Kriman    
1979(no award)    
1980David Kortbawi    
1981Mary BadiakJames McTiernan   
1982Peter A. Becker    
1983John Tkaczyk    
1984Hugh Williams    
1985David Turner    
1986Scott Axelrod    
1987Jason Weisman    
1988William Butler    
1989Rebecca Kozodoy    
1990Helen DorsettAubrey Hanbicki Corey Weiss 
1991David ClaytonMichael Thayer   
1992Paul EppAmy Wyrsch   
1993Carynelisa ErlickDavid Wolinski   
1994N. Peter ArmitageOskar Liivak   
1995Eva HalkiadakisEric Sharkey Brian Utter 
1996Danna Rosenberg    
1997David Fish    
1998David Medvigy    
1999Taro Sato    
2000Adam CunhaDonglai Gong   
2001Nicholas Butch    
2002Stephen Healey    
2003Robert FriedmanLiam mac Lynne John McClainKing Tsoi
2004Tamer Elkholy    
2005Steven CavanaughJoshua Kallman   
2006Joseph Walsh    
2007Pablo MosteiroKinga Partyka Joseph Wolf 
2008Anthony BarkerJack Hanson Javier Sanchez 
2009Brenna KriegerDavid Ruffner Benjamin ShappeeJennifer Van Saders
2010Hou Keong Lou    
2011Edward Lochocki    
2012Aaron RosenbergKiersten Ruisard Sabrina Strauss 
2013Brian CoopersmithAdrian Howansky Kelvin Mei 
2014David Kolchmeyer    
2015Craig ReingoldAsher Wasserman   
2016Aditya Parikh    

Photographs from Awards Banquets

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

Prof. Mohan Kalelkar and prizewinner Nicholas Butch at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 12, 2001.
Prizewinner Stephen Healey at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 16, 2002.
Prizewinners Robert Friedman (left) and Liam mac Lynne (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 22, 2003 with their research advisers Profs. Jack Hughes and Gordon Thomson respectively.
Prizewinners John McClain (left) and King Tsoi (right, with research adviser Prof. Sang-Wook Cheong) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 22, 2003.
Prizewinner Tamer Elkholy. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 20, 2004.
Prizewinners Steven Cavanaugh (left) and Joshua Kallman (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 26, 2005.
Prizewinner Joseph Walsh. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 18, 2006.
Prizewinners Pablo Mosteiro (left), Kinga Partyka (middle), and Joseph Wolf (right) at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 24, 2007.
Prizewinners Anthony Barker (left), Jack Hanson (middle), and Javier Sanchez (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 29, 2008.
Prizewinners Brenna Krieger (left) and David Ruffner (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 21, 2009.
Prizewinners Benjamin Shappee (left) and Jennifer Van Saders (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 21, 2009.
Prizewinner Hou Keong Lou. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 27, 2010.
Prizewinner Edward Lochocki. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 26, 2011.
Prizewinners Aaron Rosenberg (left), Kiersten Ruisard (middle), and Sabrina Strauss (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 17, 2012.
Prizewinners Brian Coopersmith (left), Adrian Howansky (middle), and Kelvin Mei (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 23, 2013.
Prizewinner David Kolchmeyer. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 22, 2014.
Prizewinners Craig Reingold (left) and Asher Wasserman (right). The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 21, 2015.
Prizewinner Aditya Parikh. The prize was presented at the Departmental Awards Banquet on April 19, 2016.

Back to Rutgers Physics Home Page

This page is maintained by Prof. Mohan Kalelkar.