Skip To Content Skip To Menu Skip To Footer

Faculty Profile

David Jackson

Professor of Physics and Astronomy (2001)

Contact Information

Tome Scientific Building Room 210


Dr. Jackson did his graduate work in pattern formation and non-linear dynamics, focusing mainly on interfacial instabilities of magnetic fluids in applied magnetic fields. In addition to continuing this work, he has an avid interest in physics education, and co-authored a textbook for non-science students titled, "Explorations in Physics." As part of a recent curricular reform effort, Dr. Jackson co-developed a series of single-photon quantum mechanics experiments for use at Dickinson, and is now working to incorporate computation as a core part of the physics program. He is also collaborating with Cengage Learning to develop a series of Interactive Video Vignettes for use in introductory physics classes. Dr. Jackson has received numerous external grants to support his work. Additionally, along with colleagues Priscilla W. Laws and Scott V. Franklin, he received the first Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction in 2012 from Science magazine. He was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physics from 2011-2017 and currently acts as the journal's video abstracts editor. Dr. Jackson is a 2018 recipient of the Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and was awarded the Association's 2019 David Halliday and Robert Resnick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching.


  • B.S., University of Washington, 1989
  • M.A., Princeton University, 1991
  • Ph.D., 1994

2023-2024 Academic Year

Fall 2023

PHYS 311 Dynamics & Chaos
An advanced treatment of classical mechanics using vector calculus and the calculus of variations, as well as an introduction to the analysis of chaotic systems. Topics will include: the dynamics of systems of particles and conservation laws; linear and nonlinear oscillators; iterative maps and the route to chaos; central force motion; rigid body motion; non-inertial reference frames and fictitious forces; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of dynamics. The course will also focus heavily on analytical and problem-solving techniques. Prerequisite: 211 and 282 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS 491 Advanced Laboratory Capstone I
In this capstone experience, students will work in groups to study several advanced physics topics in detail. Potential topics include muon decay, microwave diffraction, the speed of light, pulsed nuclear magnetic resonance, and the Hall effect. The course emphasizes collaborative research, investigative techniques, oral and written communication. Prerequisite: Physics major senior status. The physics major requires either the two-semester sequence of 491 & 492 OR two semesters of PHYS 550.

PHYS 550 Independent Research

Spring 2024

PHYS 282 Intro to Theoretical Physics
A rigorous survey of mathematical topics and techniques that are commonly used in theoretical physics. Topics include vector analysis, differential equations, power series, linear algebra, tensors, and vector calculus (gradient, divergence, curl, line integrals, and so on). The primary focus of this course is on solving problems as a means to improve students’ confidence and understanding of mathematics within the context of physical systems. Prerequisite: 211 or permission of instructor. Corequisite: MATH 171 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS 361 Computational Physics
This course is designed to give students an introduction to computational techniques and simulations in physics using the Open Source Physics Library. A significant fraction of the students' time will be spent actually programming specific physics problems rather than learning abstract techniques. Students should therefore be prepared to learn by doing.

PHYS 550 Independent Research