Alumni Stories

Dick Peterson '64

You can always build upon your education. - Richard "Dick" Peterson, 1964, Physics & Math

What is something that surprised you about UW-River Falls?

I learned quickly that I enjoyed and needed the social sciences and humanities for a richer life. Thus, the liberal arts portion of the curriculum at UW-River Falls impacted by life more than I expected. Folks like Professor Richard Darr (Economics), Professor Ed Peterson (History), Professor Vera Moss (Humanities) and Professor Jim Crane (Art History) had special impacts during the four years I attended the university.

What are some experiences you've had that benefit your career?

The most crucial benefactors were my physics professors, Professors Sukow and Albert. The opportunity to do lab work was strong. I made use of some fairly new nuclear instrumentation. Earl Albert seemed to recognize real discipline and "hungry" students who wanted to climb. He also ran a tight organization that had produced some past graduate students in physics and applied physics. Wayne Sukow was in the process of completing graduate work and brought untold inspiration and knowledge of the world of graduate physics. He conveyed a modern vector treatment of physics that was important for my graduate work to follow.

What are some things you do in your position at Bethel University or outside of the university?

I worked with students in developing new methods for fast interferometric and holographic measurements of all sorts. I was appointed the first University Professor at Bethel for my research, teaching and physics community service. From 2010-2012 I served in Washington as a Program Director in the physics education group of the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education.

UWRF Alumnus Dick PetersonProfessor of Physics Emeritus at Bethel University

Education after UWRF:

Ph.D. in Physics at Michigan State University


-American Physical Society's (APS) prize for outstanding research at an undergraduate school

-Elected Fellow of APS in 2005

-Elected to serve in 2003-2007 in the Presidential track of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)

-Recognized as a Senior Member for professional work and service in optics and photonics by the Optical Society of America (OSA) in 2010

Favorite Newspaper:

The New York Times

Most Rewarding Trips:

Riga, Latvia

Seoul, Korea

Nairobi, Kenya

Pyongyang, DPRK 

Favorite Food:


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