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David McIntyre in front of purple bush

Physics professor recognized as Honors College Eminent Professor

By Srila Nayak

David McIntyre, professor in physics

Physics Professor David McIntyre has received the Honors College Eminent Professor Award for 2018 for his outstanding contributions to teaching and mentoring Honors students.

Each year the Honors College recognizes two eminent professors, who are selected by a faculty panel for their distinguished participation in Honors College programs and their role in stimulating creative advancements in teaching in the college. In addition to McIntyre, Marissa Chappell of the School of History, Philosophy and Religion was named the Honors College Elva Sanders Eminent Professor this year.

McIntyre has been teaching at Oregon State University since 1989, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Arizona and a master’s and Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. McIntyre served as Interim Associate Dean in the College of Science from 2013-14.

McIntyre’s research is in the field of optical physics. He uses lasers to understand how light and matter interact. His team is currently using focused laser beams to exert forces on particles to better understand how cells interact mechanically with their environment.

McIntyre has mentored two honors students’ thesis projects and was one of four faculty members who led the inaugural Honors College London Experience in the summer of 2016, according to an Honors College news release. He regularly teaches the honors recitation for the introductory physics course.

McIntyre’s students commend him for his incredible energy in the classroom, his expertise in quantum physics and his engaging teaching style.

“McIntyre is an awesome professor. He really inspired me to do more with quantum mechanics and the textbook he wrote is great! His teaching style makes hard concepts simple and brings the material to life,” writes one student.

McIntyre teaches physics by putting the subject in engaging, multidisciplinary contexts where students learn through hands-on contact and observation.

“I believe in getting students to experience the concepts that I am teaching. I like to bring demonstrations to class and if possible to have the students build simple experiments,” McIntyre said.

For the course on Isaac Newton in the Honors College study abroad program in London, McIntyre’s students constructed spectrometers with their cell phones and used a sextant to learn how ships navigated in the era of Newton.

“McIntyre took advantage of the possibilities for designing tangible experiences that illustrated and underlined course themes,” reported the Honors College in a news release.

In the Department of Physics, McIntyre has contributed substantially to the design of effective instruction that has shaped modern physics education in the program. He has been involved with the Paradigms in Physics curriculum from the beginning in 1996. The 20-year old, famed Paradigms curriculum teaches physics the way physicists think about it by building courses around the various subfields such as electromagnetism, waves and oscillations, statistical physics and so forth.

From physical optics to harmonic oscillations, McIntyre has taught numerous courses developed in the paradigms curriculum, notably those that involve quantum mechanics. Drawing from his teaching experiences and his pioneering involvement with innovative pedagogical methods in physics, McIntyre has co-authored the textbook, Quantum Mechanics: A Paradigms Approach (2012) with OSU physics professors Corinne Manogue and Janet Tate. The book is now used widely across OSU and universities around the world.

This year, McIntyre is teaching several courses for physics majors that involve laboratory activities, such as optics, electronics and computer interfacing. McIntyre’s teaching is inspired by the enthusiasm and curiosity students brings to his classroom.

“I enjoy the energy in students being exposed to new ideas. It opens their minds and I enjoy seeing them excited about the new knowledge they gain.” McIntyre observed.

The Honors College Eminent Professor awards are generously supported by the College’s donors. Recipients receive a $3,000 cash award and are honored at the Honors College Recognition Reception in June.

Besides McIntyre, past science faculty honorees of this award include chemistry professor Vincent Remcho and mathematics professors Tevian Dray and Bill Bogley.