Reichert Puts a New Spin on his Career in Physics during K-State Physics Colloquium
Retired professor and current philanthropist, Jonathan F. Reichert, shared his journey with K-State faculty and students during a recent Physics Colloquium, which ended with a surprising and generous donation.
Reichert, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from Washington University, St. Louis, found that a physics laboratory was the place where theory came to life for him. He loved building apparatus that increased student understanding.
Reichert conducted research at Harvard with Nobel Laureate Nico Bloembergen and transitioned to a teaching and research career at Case-Western Reserve and then State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to writing textbooks that rearranged the introductory curriculum, he took charge of organizing and building apparatus for upper level laboratories.
It was during his tenure at Buffalo that he became an influential mentor to current K-State physics faculty, Kristan Corwin, during her undergraduate education. He had a profound effect on her which led to her pursuit of a career in physics.
Reichert learned from his 30+ years of physics teaching experience with students such as Corwin that hands-on laboratory learning was essential to the development of future scientists. Thus, he began TeachSpin in 1992.
TeachSpin is a company dedicated to creating rugged, reliable, and affordable hands-on instruments that any physicist, no matter his or her area of expertise, can incorporate into an advanced laboratory program. The instruments are designed and built by university professors who have taught in undergraduate labs and understand the needs of the academic community.
In 2014 Reichert embarked on a crusade to provide financial support to educational institutions that lack funds for equipment such as that created at TeachSpin. He established the Jonathan F. Reichert Foundation, which is dedicated to "enhancing advanced laboratory instruction." Reichert gifted TeachSpin to the foundation. Thus, all profits generated from the sale of TeachSpin apparatus go to the Foundation.
During his colloquium, Reichert discussed how his personal journey of teaching and creating instruments for the lab led to the creation of TeachSpin and the foundation. He also demonstrated TeachSpins' newest apparatus, Fundamentals of Magnetic Susceptibility, and discussed how his company decides what instruments to create, and what "intellectual phase space" they span.
At the end of the colloquium, Reichert surprised his former student Kristan Corwin by making the apparatus a gift to the university. "In honor of your promotion," he told her. "You can thank me by making sure students use it!"