Richard Robinett, a professor of physics at Penn State University, has been selected to receive the President's Award for Engagement with Students. Robinett also is one of the associate heads, director of undergraduate studies, and director of graduate studies for the Department of Physics. Since assuming duties as director of undergraduate studies for the department in 1996, Robinett has taken responsibility for and played a central role in every aspect of the undergraduate program, including personally overseeing department interaction with prospective and declared physics majors and physics minors.
Robinett's personal attention and encouragement has led to a large number of students pursuing major national and international scholarships and awards. Under Robinett's direction, Penn State physics majors have been awarded six Goldwater Scholarships, three National Science Foundation Scholarships, a Marshall Scholarship, and two National Institutes of Health-Cambridge Scholarships. Robinett also is responsible for the development of the physics first-year seminar and the Physics Undergraduate Teaching Handbook, and he has helped mentor many new faculty members in the physics department.
Robinett has published numerous papers in refereed journals along with two editions of an undergraduate textbook on quantum mechanics. His contributions to professional organizations include his serving as an associate editor of the American Journal of Physics and as a member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the American Physical Society Forum on Education. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
In addition to his contributions to University-wide committees such as the Faculty Senate's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the Schreyer Honors College Faculty Advisory Committee, Robinett has been honored with various Penn State awards that include the Distinguished Service Award in 2007, the Undergraduate Program Leadership Award in 2005, the Undergraduate Student Government Excellence in Advising Award in 2003, the C.I. Noll Award for Teaching in 2002, a George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1999, the Provost's Award for Collaborative Instruction and Curricular Innovation in 1994, and the Penn State Society of Physics Students Teaching Award in 1992.
Robinett earned doctoral and bachelor's degrees at the University of Minnesota in 1981 and 1975, respectively.