Remembrance of Bill Nelson

December 2010

On the occasion of the Nelson Lecture, I was thinking back on my years of work with Bill Nelson.

Bill came to the Georgia State University Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1971 after I came in 1968. He settled in to the corner office which adjoined my office in 514B Kell Hall on the 5th floor which housed faculty offices, classrooms, reasearch labs and the machine shop. He and Joe Hadley had their research lab for Electron Spin Resonance down at the south end of the hall of the Physics area, and my Microwave Spectroscopy lab was about halfway down that hall. I continued the microwave spectroscopy research with graduate students Kerry Pullen and Dale Rice through the mid-70s, but the available problems became so complex that it became evident that a single researcher like myself couldn't quite handle them in competition with some big laboratories in Germany and elsewhere. Also I was deeply involved in teaching about 300 nurses a year in the Physics for the Health Sciences and Brenda and I had published the book with that title.

At that time I switched research interests and tried to contribute to Bill's and Joe's efforts in ESR. I appreciated their help and coaching in that switchover.

I became more deeply involved in teaching and course development with the initiation of the Conceptual Physics course in about 1980 and my efforts to increase the use of technology and the then-new desktop computers. Starting with the Apple-2 computer, our use of computers in lab and classroom continued to increase. Bill continued his research but in time moved more into the administrative side, becoming Chair of the department in 1992. In 2004 he moved on up to Associate Dean of Research and made fine contributions to the research of the School of Arts and Sciences.

When we returned from Pearl River from our Christmas trip in 2010, we had messages from Dick Miller and were shocked to learn of Bill's death from a heart attack. We had a memorial service at the University early in 2011 as I recall. I am writing this in 2017, so I don't remember all the details.

The continuing series of lectures honors Bill's contribution to GSU.

Wedding of Matt and Jan

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