Thirty-eight years of persistence, risk-taking and research has finally paid off for Dr. Donald Isenhower, professor of engineering and physics.
Isenhower received the American Physical Society’s 2015 Prize for a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution.
“I’ve spent 38 years doing electronics, building detectors, debugging systems and learning how to make things work in ways they weren’t meant to and how to fix things that others considered hopeless,” Isenhower said.
Isenhower discovered his love of physics and engineering at a very young age.
“I figured out how to build an ion rocket after reading about them when I was 11 years old,” he said. “And then a nitrogen laser that I took to the International Science Fair in 1977.”
He has since devoted most of his time to research and mentoring undergraduate students.
Isenhower is the second ACU faculty member to win this prize.
“The fact that two faculty members from ACU have now won the prize shows that ACU has some outstanding faculty in physics and indicates that they have an extremely strong physics department in terms of undergraduate research,” said Dr. Richard Wiener, program director of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.
The Research Corporation for Science Advancement funds the prize and hosted a reception honoring Isenhower on Tuesday in San Antonio with approximately 10,000 physicists in attendance.
“There is not some special pot of money for undergraduate schools,” Isenhower said. “We compete for funds with all of the other major research universities and national laboratories. We keep it because our work is usually better than most groups with graduate programs.”
Isenhower will be presented the award in the April meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore.
“My work is my hobby, my hobby is my work, and you can’t have more fun than that,” Isenhower said. “It takes a lot of hard work to get people to pay you to do your hobby, but somebody will if you work hard enough.”