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Two Calvin Profs named Fellows of the American Physical Society

Stan HaanAPS Fellows Pin David Van Baak

Calvin physics professors Stan Haan and David Van Baak have been named Fellows of the American Physical Society. This is a distinguished honor from their professional peers, recognizing their outstanding contributions to physics research and education. Previous professors Vernon Ehlers and John Van Zytveld have also received this honor.

Haan is being honored for his cutting-edge research in atomic physics. His research has spanned nearly three decades, including 54 research papers and a continuous string of grants from the National Science Foundation, dating back to 1987.  The APS Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics honored Haan “for contributions to the theory of photodetachment, photoionization, and photorecombination processes, including quantum and classical models for double ionization of atoms.”

David Van Baak is being honored for his development of lab experiments for undergraduates which give students hands on experience with complex physics concepts. His unique designs for lab equipment have been produced with TeachSpin for colleges and universities around the world. The APS Forum on Education honors David "for successfully refining and extending experiments used in the undergraduate curriculum and for promulgating the use of diode lasers in the undergraduate laboratory."

Haan and Van Baak have consistently included their students in their work.   Dozens of students have been mentored by Haan in summer research projects and are co-authors on publications in top physics journals.   Calvin students are the first to try out Van Baak’s equipment designs, and questions from students have inspired his lab experiments that are now used on many campuses.  

Students who have researched and taken classes with both professors say that Haan and Van Baak are “personable,” and “they teach very practical physics.” Haan and Van Baak’s colleagues echo the students’ praise.

“David has directed his career as a physicist to making the instructional laboratory experience challenging, up-to-date, hands-on, transparent and exciting,” wrote Jonathan F. Reichert, president of TeachSpin, Inc. in a letter of support for Van Baak. “In my entire career of over 50 years, I can think of few physicists who did comparable work in this important area.”

“His success in the undergraduate setting speaks to the extraordinary levels of patience, organizational skill and personal commitment that accompany Stan’s outstanding scientific ability,” wrote Calvin’s dean for research and scholarship Matt Walhout, who nominated Haan for the fellowship.


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A reception was held in DeVries Hall Atrium on March 1, 2011.

Read the tribute presented by Matt Walhout at the reception, and view some photos.