Faculty Profile

Hans Pfister

Professor of Physics, George Wesley Pedlow Chair in Pedagogy (1991)

Contact Information

pfister@dickinson.edu

Tome Scientific Building Room 211
717.245.1307

Bio

As an advocate for the environment he encourages sustainable living, supports sustainable technology, and embraces renewable energy sources. With the help of a 2006 Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) Seed/Assistance grant he was able to turn one of his visions, a sun-tracking solar concentrator, into a reality. This prototype will soon make some of the hot water for the students living in Dickinson’s Center for Sustainable Living. A 2009 Innovation Transfer Network (ITN)/KIZ Seed/Assistance grant enabled him to design and build a concentrating solar collector, which converts solar energy directly into electricity, using a thermoelectric converter (TEC). A 2007 ITN/KIZ grant supported the design and construction of a dental device, which removes temporary crowns and bridges by a series of micro pulses, applied to the backside of the dental appliances. Over the course of the semester he devotes time as a plasma physicist to work with senior physics majors on his design of a plasma propulsion device known as a Hall thruster. With another group of seniors he built a solar powered Stirling engine. Over the course of the past 18 years he has developed numerous kinesthetic physics experiments, incorporating his students into the experiment, thus allowing them to feel the forces and accelerations on their own body. Three of his inventions, a Kinesthetics Cart for Motion in 1-D, a Kinesthetics Cart for Motion in 2-D, and a Thermodynamic Engine and Ideal Gas Law Demonstration Apparatus are being used at over a thousand colleges, universities, and high schools. Some of his other interests include physics puzzles, tricks, and toys, as applied to the physics classroom.

Education

  • Staatsexam, Eberhard Karls Universitat, 1981
  • Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1991

2016-2017 Academic Year

Fall 2016

PHYS 211 Vibrations, Waves & Optics
Completion of both PHYS 211 and PHYS 212 fulfills the WID Requirement.

PHYS 491 Senior Research Seminar
Integration of theory and experiment in the conduct of research in contemporary physics or astrophysics, normally conducted in groups. The course emphasizes collaborative research, investigative techniques, and oral and written communication, and culminates in a colloquium presentation and a paper. Prerequisite: Physics major senior status. The two semester sequence (491 & 492 or 491 + Independent Research for candidates for honors in the major) are required for the major.