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RPI Prof ('Mr. Physics') Philip Casabella Dies

Photonics.com
Feb 2007
TROY, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2007 -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) said this week that the lecture halls and classrooms of its physics, applied physics and astronomy department will never be the same since the death of Philip Casabella, professor and associate chair of the department, on Feb. 6 after a long battle with cancer. Casabella taught physics at Rensselaer for more than 45 years, and "truly loved what he did for a living, bringing his passion for physics directly into the classroom," RPI said in a statement.

"No one will ever forget his popular 'Physics Magic Show,' complete with small explosions and choruses of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from his students. Casabella helped introduce generations of students to the power of physics, and he helped inspire some of our greatest scientists to become the groundbreaking researchers and industry leaders that they are today."

Known as “Mr. Physics Education” by his colleagues, Casabella was also greatly respected by his colleagues. In 2001 he received the Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and a master’s in 1957 -- both in physics -- from Rensselaer and a doctorate from Brown University in 1959.

At Rensselaer, Casabella also researched nuclear magnetic resonance in solids. During his career there, he served as acting chair then chair of the department of physics. At the time of his death, he was associate chair of the department, a position he had held for many years.

He joined the Rensselaer faculty in January of 1961 where he helped to develop the studio mode of instruction that embraces a non-lecture style of teaching and emphasizes group work, hands-on activities and computer use to involve students more in the learning process -- a method that would later spread to nearly every department within Rensselaer.

"Casabella remained committed to his students until the day he died, working late into the evenings in between hospital stays just last week to ensure that his students were getting their assignments on time," RPI said.

He is survived by two children and three grandchildren.

For more information, visit: www.rpi.edu


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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