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Wendell Hill Publishes Book

Affiliate Professor, Wendell Hill, published his book entitled, Light-Matter Interaction: Atoms and Molecules in External Fields and Nonlinear Optics, last month.


In Memoriam

Remembering Jerry Marion: A teacher. A colleague. A father.

Jerry Marion was an outstanding physicist who joined the Department in 1957. He gained international recognition for his role in the early development of our research programs involving the Van de Graff generator. This work resulted in several publications, while providing valuable training for our graduate students.

Over the years, Marion continued his research efforts in experimental nuclear physics. He was experienced in neutron detection and slowly increased his involvement in undergraduate teaching.

“I remember working side-by-side with him at the console of the Van de Graff accelerator in the basement of the physics building learning how to operate the accelerator and to record neutron measurements,” said Frank Young, a former student.
“His willing involvement with experiments in the laboratory was a real asset to his students.”

Marion’s involvement became so great that he eventually devoted most of his efforts to writing textbooks and teaching undergraduate students. His exceptional popularity with students was founded on his extraordinary ability for disseminating knowledge as well as his patient and ingratiating personality.

“I realize now, after my own graduate school experience, that relatively few professors excel both at book-writing and teaching,” said his son. “Dad was gifted in both areas. One of his favorite classroom practices was bringing in a pistol from home and, from the lecture platform, firing it and measuring the velocity. Students loved it. Of course, you couldn’t get away with that today!”

Marion was one of those rare individuals who could discuss equally well the complexities of nuclear physics, the Washington Redskins and politics. His colleagues admired his sense of humor and recall a smile that was permanently plastered to his face.

“The Physics Department had weekly lunches and annual appointments and gathered money to pay for them,” said Bob Detenbeck. “The cost was purposely set at a convenient whole number of quarters to make it easier on the collector. One year when Jerry was serving as collector, he found 37 cents in the collection bowl! He howled when he found the 37 cents. Nevertheless, as befits a southern gentleman, he made a big joke of it.”

Upon his death, in 1981, the Marion family established the Jerry B. Marion Memorial Fund, which honors a graduating senior majoring in Physics who most embodies the qualities Marion valued in a colleague. The award wishes to cite the senior who not only has an outstanding academic record, but who has also indicated a great concern for the profession of teaching and promise of becoming a fine teacher.

“[I remember] visiting Dad’s classroom when I was about 10 and being awed by the auditorium filled with students twice my age,” said Kathryn Marion. “ [I remember] watching him write equations a mile long and then put life into them like no one else could.”


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