03/10/1995 08:00:00

David Goodstein Named to Gilloon Professorship

PASADENA—David Goodstein, vice provost and professor of physics and applied physics, has been appointed the Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor. He is the first person to occupy this prestigious chair.

"Excellence in teaching and service among our faculty is critical to maintaining Caltech's eminence," said Paul Jennings, the acting vice president for business and finance. "The Institute is grateful to the generosity of the late Mr. Gilloon, whose estate funds this professorship and enables us to recognize these outstanding qualities in David Goodstein." Goodstein, a member of the Caltech faculty since 1966, is known to thousands of Caltech alumni for his wonderful freshman physics lectures, and to hundreds of thousands more young people as the producer and host of The Mechanical Universe, a 52-part college physics telecourse based on his popular lectures. The series, which has been adapted for use in high schools and translated into ten other languages, has won more than a dozen prestigious awards, including the 1987 Japan Prize for television.

His area of scientific expertise is condensed-matter physics, especially two-dimensional matter and phase transitions. He has published more than 100 research articles in this field, and a book, States of Matter, first printed in 1975 and reissued in 1985. A gifted writer, Goodstein also contributes frequent thoughtful editorials to newspapers throughout the country on issues that concern the current and future welfare of science. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Goodstein earned his BS at Brooklyn College and his PhD at the University of Washington.

Frank J. Gilloon, whose generosity made possible the professorship that bears his name, was born in 1894 in New York City. He earned a BS in civil engineering at New York University, and served as an instructor in civil engineering at Caltech in 1919–20. He farmed avocados and oranges near Del Mar, California, from the 1930s through the 1950s, and passed away last year, aged 99.

Written by John Avery