Don Smith
Don Smith grew up near Chicago, and has lived in Germany (86-87 and 92-93). He went to college at The University of Chicago (BA, Physics, 92) and graduate school at MIT (PhD, Physics, 99). He then lived in Ann Arbor for five years, working at the University of Michigan as an NSF postdoctoral Fellow and a lecturer. He began as an assistant professor at Guilford College in the fall of 2005, was awarded tenure in 2011 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012.

Classes
Research
Quaker
Hobbies
Fall 2019

This Fall, the college is changing the calendar and the curriculum. We will now be having a three-week term, in which students take one class only, and then a 12-week term, in which they take three classes.

For the three week, I will finally be implementing my long-dreamed-of idea of teaching a course on the Physics of Theater Lighting!

Then in the 12 week, I'll have
Phys 422 -- Electromagnetism,
Phys 231 -- Experimental Physics I, and another new course,
Phys 131 -- Mythbusters! Okay, technically the last course is "Explorations in Experimental Physics", but it's really Mythbusters.

Here is a PDF copy of my block weekly schedule.

Here is my most recent CV.

A record of past courses I have taught at Guilford.

I have published five articles in The Physics Teacher journal. One about helping students connect their new knowledge to real-life situations, one about using science fiction to teach physics ideas to non-science majors, one about a trick to help colorblind students understand Astronomical images more easily, one about observing human-made satellites from a ground-based telescope, and one about using the card game Mao to teach aspects of scientific thinking. A sixth article about how to use Lucky Imaging to capture cool images of planets with a cell phone is out in the October 2018 issue.

In 2013, I was nominated to the Committee on Space Science and Astronomy for the American Association of Physics Teachers, to serve a three-year term. In 2014 I became vice-chair of the committee, and in 2015-2016 I served as chair. From 2016 to 2018 I served on the Meetings committee. For now, I am taking a break from AAPT service to focus on curricular changes at Guilford.

Don is working to automate the Guilford College Cline Observatory to function as a professional and teaching laboratory. We have resurfaced the mirrors on the 16-inch telescope. We have written a pipeline to automatically process the images every morning, and we have scripts to automate the observing target list.

We submitted a paper to the Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers to explain how the observatory works, in the hopes of submitting more data to their databases in the future. It has been accepted! I will post a link as soon as it's officially "out".

We are also working on building a spectroscopic instrument. This is mostly assembled now, and we are just waiting for some clear skies to test it out.

He collaborates with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute on a project to spectrally classify a massive archival database of hundreds of thousands of stars.

He also keeps an eye on the ROTSE project, on which he worked as an NSF postdoctoral Fellow. See here for one of his last papers on ROTSE results.

His graduate school project, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, involved studying transient outbursts from Black Hole and Neutron Star Binary systems. See here for a paper he helped write about one such system.

More details on Don's early professional career.

Don has been active in the Religious Society of Friends since he was a teenager. He was a counselor in the Youth Education program of New England Yearly Meeting between 1994 and 2000, and was co-coordinator of the High School Program for Friends General Conference in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, he contributed a chapter to The Quaker Bible Reader, writing on how a Quaker scientist reads creation stories. Recently, he presented at the 2008 and 2009 meetings of the Friends Association for Higher Education, and in 2010 he published an article in the Quaker Higher Education journal. He served on the Executive Board of FAHE and from 2011-2018 served as co-editor of QHE.

In 2014, he co-edited a book of essays on Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education for the Friends Association for Higher Education Press. This book became the first in a series called Quakers in the Disciplines, and Don will have an article about nuclear power in the sixth volume, Quakers and Environmentalism/Sustainability, out in 2019.

Don enjoys theatrical lighting design, and has designed lights for Chicago, Cabaret, Bye Bye Birdie, and many others:

2019 - Clue: The Musical, Free To Be You and Me
2017 - The Laramie Project, A Chorus Line
2005 - Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret
2004 - Rebel Without a Cause, AACT 75th Anniversary Gala
2003 - 2 1/2 Tenors, Pillow Talk, Chicago
2002 - Jeckyll & Hyde
1994 - Think Twice
1993 - Three short plays by A. A. Milne
1992 - Into the Woods
1991 - Lunch Hour, With Discretion, The Little Clay Cart

Don also likes to travel, cook, bike, garden, watch (and discuss) movies, program computers, and play strategy games. Lately, he has been getting obsessed with baking loaves of crusty bread. Most importantly, he is delighted when he can spend time with his wife, Kembra, and their crazy adorable dog, Nutmeg.

Some other useful links: My old ROTSE page The department seminar