Jan Tobochnik

Dow Distinguished Professor of Natural Science

Departments of Physics and Computer Science

Editor, American Journal of Physics 2001--2011

Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo, MI 49006
(269) 337-7098
Email: jant@kzoo.edu

B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Physics, Amherst College, 1975
Ph.D., Cornell University, Physics, 1980

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Research

My research involves using computer simulations to understand a wide variety of systems, particularly near phase transitions. At present I am working on network analysis of the U.S. patent citation database, models of nucleation, and models relevant to neuroscience.

Previous research has included simulations of the glass transition, granular matter, diffusion in porous media, lattice models of lipid bilayers, quantum Monte Carlo simulations of disordered superconductors, and two dimensional melting. Funding for much of this research has come from the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society.

Teaching

I have been particularly interested in teaching students how to write and use computer simulations to do physics. My colleague, Harvey Gould at Clark University, and I have written the text An Introduction to Computer Simulation Methods on this subject. Along with a new author, Wolfgang Christian of Davidson College, we have published the third edition which uses Java. We have also developed a set of open source Java classes which can be used in conjunction with our text ( open source physics). Check out comPADRE or the simulations in physics web site to find out more. This latter site also includes links to other relevant sites and information on a column previously edited by Harvey Gould and myself for over 10 years in the journals Computing in Science and Engineering and Computers in Physics.

I have been working on a project originally funded by an NSF grant to improve the teaching of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and statistical physics at the undergraduate level. Harvey Gould and I edited the December 1999 theme issue of the American Journal of Physics on these topics. We also started a new series of Gordon Conferences on Physics Education and Research and co-chaired the first one on statistical and thermal physics in June 2000. Later conferences in this series have been on quantum mechanics(2002), classical mechanics and nonlinear dynamics(2004), electrodynamics(2006), computational physics(2008) and experimental physics(2010). The next conference in 2012 will be on astrophysics. Currently, I am writing Java programs and curricular material for statistical and thermal physics, and our text Statistical and Thermal Physics With Computer Applications, has been published by Princeton University Press in 2010. Our open source physics (OSP) Java programs can be found on comPADRE along with other simulations done by our collaborators in the OSP project.

Other Professional Activities

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Preprints on Physics Archive

Preprints on Condensed Matter Archive