The University Record, October 3, 1994

FACULTY AWARDS Jens C. Zorn, Amoco Foundation Faculty Teaching Award

Whether presenting a formal lecture in front of a large classroom or holding a one-on-one conversation with a student, Jens Zorn has been remarkably successful in helping students to grasp the often intimidating aspects of physics. With a warm and personable manner, Professor Zorn has established a tremendous rapport with his students for over three decades at Michigan.

Characterized by his students as “deceptively casual” and a “back-of-the-envelope” physicist, Professor Zorn impresses in the classroom with ideas that seem to flow naturally and effortlessly out of one another. He constantly weaves theory together with practical examples: how televisions work; why fluorescent lights are preferable to incandescent lights; and what the display on a stereo system’s graphic equalizer means.

Although he has given courses in atomic physics, optics, physics of music, physics of photography, and the effect of technology on Appalachian life, in recent years Professor Zorn has worked to improve the manner in which the required course in quantum mechanics is presented to undergraduate physics majors. By long tradition, teaching quantum mechanics relied almost exclusively on algebraic and verbal explanation, an ineffective method for students with a more geometric and visual sense of abstract reasoning. Professor Zorn has in turn developed a series of video animations to be used as lecture presentations, homework supplements, and self-study, augmenting the traditional algebraic approach and pioneering the interactive, multimedia classroom of the future. This method of teaching is now taking root in other universities across the nation.

Regarded as the heart of Michigan’s undergraduate program in physics, Professor Zorn demonstrates one of the hallmarks of the exemplary educator by making the effort to get to know all of his students and by remembering them even after they have left the University.

For his valuable contributions to the art of teaching physics, his long record of effectiveness as an outstanding teacher, and his concern for the development of his students, we are pleased to honor Jens C. Zorn with the Amoco Foundation Faculty Teaching Award.