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Richard Peterson

Job Title

  • University Professor of Physics Emeritus
    Physics & Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences

Started at Bethel

1980

Education

  • Wisconsin State University - B.S. in physics and mathematics, 1964
  • Michigan State University - M.S. in physics, 1966
  • Michigan State University - Ph.D. in physics, 1969

Areas of expertise

Dick Peterson received his Ph.D. in physics at Michigan State followed by postdoctoral and several summer VSM positions in optical plasma diagnostics in the Physics Division at Los Alamos. Since coming to Bethel University, he has worked with students in developing new methods for fast interferometric and holographic measurements of all sorts. He has received the American Physical Society's (APS) prize for outstanding research at an undergraduate school and was elected a Fellow of the APS in 2005. He was elected to serve in 2003-2007 in the Presidential track of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and is a Fellow of the AAPT. In 2010 the Optical Society of America (OSA) recognized him as a Senior Member for professional work and service in optics and photonics, and he has served as a Traveling Lecturer for the OSA. He especially enjoys the development of new apparatus for interactive physics demonstrations and laboratories and has shared these demonstrations globally with young and old. Recent presentations on lecture demonstrations and undergraduate research include those in North and South Korea, China, Latvia, and Kenya. In 2006 he was appointed the first University Professor at Bethel for his research, teaching, and physics community service. In 2011 he was elected to the Minnesota Science and Technology Hall of Fame. An NSF agreement with Bethel University recently supported his IPA 2010-2012 appointment as a Program Director within NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in Arlington, VA.

Biography

He came to Bethel as Professor and Physics Department Chair in 1980. During 2005–2007, he served as national President/Past President of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and has also served 4 years as a Director on the American Institute of Physics Governing Board. He especially enjoys the development of new apparatus for interactive physics demonstrations and laboratories and loves to share these demonstrations with young and old. He was appointed the first University Professor at Bethel University for his research, teaching, and physics community service. Following a NSF grant to Bethel, he recently served 2 years as Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in Arlington, VA concurrent with a Senior Staff Physicist appointment at Bethel. 

Awards

He was awarded the American Physical Society's (APS) Prize for outstanding research at an undergraduate school in the U.S. and was elected a Fellow of the APS. Research and teaching work has been assisted by a series of grants from 3M and Imation, along with support from NSF, NASA MN Space Grant, Research Corporation, and a relationship with Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

In 2011, he was elected to the MN Science and Technology Hall of Fame. www.msthalloffame.org/richard_peterson.htm 

In 2010, the Optical Society of America (OSA) recognized him with Senior Member status for outstanding professional work and service in optics and photonics. He has been appointed a Fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and received their Citation of Exceptional Service. He was a repeat Blandin Fellow as awarded for service to public schools throughout rural MN and also received a McKnight Foundation award for similar service in urban high schools of the Twin Cities.

Publications

Fifty nationally published or invited papers have resulted from research - some dealing with advanced undergraduate labs, including 30 refereed publications in Applied Optics (3), J. Mol. Spectry (3), Rev. Sci. Inst. (2), App. Phy. Letters (2), American Journal of Physics (8), The Physics Teacher (5), IEEE Journals (2), Journal of Acoustical Society (3), Scientific American, and others. Over 20 invited papers (30 – 60 min) have also been presented within national and regional venues: including Los Alamos National Laboratory, 3M's Technical Forum, national APS, OSA and AAPT meetings (15), and meetings of the MN Optical Society of America (5).