University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Instructor of Physics David Willey has been invited as a delegate to an American Physical Society (APS) national summit to be held in New York City on June 4. Mr. Willey will be one of approximately 10 science luminaries who will be part of the think tank. The event will coincide with the conclusion of the 2012 World Science Festival.
The goal of the event, according to APS's Jodi B. Lieberman, is "to raise the importance of science to the voting public such that, when their members of Congress propose cuts in Federal funding for science, they are prepared to push back, and to let them know that science should not be cut."
Mr. Willey commented, "I am deeply honored to be joining this panel of accomplished scientists and celebrities to, hopefully, make an impact on the future of science and how it is viewed by the general public and our political representatives. Through our work, we hope to formulate an approach that will bring about an increased awareness of the fact that science is a fundamental part of our everyday lives and that, without Federal support, we, as a country, cannot remain competitive or productive."
Willey has dedicated his entire professional career to promoting science awareness and emphasizing the everyday application of physics in our lives. In addition to having taught at Pitt-Johnstown since 1975, he has traveled around the globe and been featured on US and international television demonstrating the various principles of physics that are part of his informative and entertaining demonstration, "How Does A Thing Like That Work?". In 1998, he broke the Guinness World Record for the longest distance walking on fire (165 feet), which took place on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. For 10 years, he was a regular guest on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," where he earned the nickname "Mad Scientist." He completed his undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom before earning his master's in physics at Ohio State University.
Also participating in the event will be nationally recognized science scholars from several fields including: Dr. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and author of The Elegant Universe; Dr. Sidney Perkowitz, the Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus of Physics at Emory University; Dr. James Kakalios, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Chicago; Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, professor of physics at West Virginia University; Dr. Tim Gay, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Dr. Donna Nelson, professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma; astronomer Dr. Phil Plait; and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. Actor and host of the PBS series "Scientific American Frontiers" Alan Alda will also serve on the panel. New York Times science reporter Ken Chang will serve as moderator.
The American Physical Society is the world's second-largest organization of physicists, representing more than 50,000 members in academia, national laboratories, and industry. The non-profit membership organization works to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.
Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization" for 2011. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.