In memoriam: Morton Sternheim

Publication date: Fri, May 05, 2023 - 11:30am

Prof. Morton Sternheim, long-time physics faculty colleague and founding director of the STEM Education Institute, passed away in his home in Amherst on March 30, 2023.

Prof. Morton Sternheim joined the faculty of the Physics department in 1965 and for many years ran an active research programme in theoretical nuclear physics while teaching courses over the entire physics curriculum.  Along with his collaborator Joseph Kane, he wrote a widely-used and innovative introductory physics textbook for life sciences students.  Mort also developed a course for school teachers to take while working in their teaching profession.  Later in his career, he set up the STEM Ed Institute to serve the needs of K-12 teachers across the state.  Along with his wife Helen, he developed and ran a number of regular professional development opportunities for decades after retirement from his faculty position.  For this work, he was recognized with the UMass Chancellor's Medal in 1998 and the the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Award for Distinguished Service to Science Education in 2016.  Mort and Helen also left their mark on the department by endowing a student award to recognize excellent students with an interest in outreach and an education, and an annual lecture series to bring in a distinguished speaker for a public lecture.