IU Southeast physics professor becomes first in Indiana to receive prestigious Millikan Medal

12th March 2018

By Rachel Terlep

Dr. Kyle Forinash, professor emeritus of physics at Indiana University Southeast, will become the first educator in the state of Indiana to receive the Robert A. Millikan Medal.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) established the Millikan Medal in 1962 and awards it on an annual basis to educators who have made notable and intellectually creative contributions to the teaching of physics.

“I am stunned to have even been considered for such a prestigious award,” Forinash said. “In looking at the list of previous recipients, I am honored to be recognized in such distinguished company. This goes to show that, even at smaller campuses, teachers can make significant contributions to science education.”

During his 32-year tenure at IU Southeast, Forinash was a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina, a visiting scientist at Los Alamos, and the author of two innovative, high-quality interactive electronic books. Sound: An Interactive eBook uses interactive simulations and animations to explore the physics of sound beyond traditional static textbook illustrations. Waves: An Interactive Tutorial is an award-winning set of tutorials designed to teach the fundamentals of wave dynamics and properties.

“Dr. Forinash’s colleagues at IU Southeast are delighted but not surprised to learn that he has been honored with this esteemed award,” said Dr. Elaine Haub, dean of the IU Southeast School of Natural Sciences. “He has always been a trailblazer in the methods he uses to aid student learning inside and outside the classroom.”

According to the AAPT, in nominating him for the honor, Forinash’s colleagues noted his remarkable and innovative career as a physics educator with an interest in societal issues, as an author of mobile apps, numerous books and more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and as a department chair who authored and implemented a Bachelor of Arts in Physics degree and co-authored the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Sustainability at IU Southeast.

His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Indiana University, the APS, and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright). He wrote Spanish-language textbooks and tutorials, has taught service courses for non-science students, introductory level, and upper division physics, courses in environmental issues and a graduate course on interactive teaching using technology in Spanish in Argentina.

Dr. Chris Lang, professor of mathematics, reflects fondly on Forinash as someone who “worked hard for many years to build the physics program at IU Southeast.”

“It is truly extraordinary that a faculty member has won this award here at IU Southeast,” Lang said. “It underscores the high quality of our programs and teaching. It’s something we can be really proud of.”

Forinash has also won the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award and was selected for the Indiana University Faculty Colloquium for Excellence in Teaching.

As the Millikan Medal recipient, Forinash will deliver an address at the AAPT 2018 Summer Meeting in Washington, D.C. He will also receive a monetary award, the Millikan Medal, an award certificate, and travel expenses to the meeting.

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