For 55 years, every physics major at San Diego State University has walked into Richard “Doc” Morris’ lab with more than a little trepidation.
Morris’ reputation for challenging aspiring scientists is legendary, as is the rigor of his Advanced Physical Measurement class, otherwise known as Physics 357, a lab that underscores critical thinking and applied research.
“Doc’s lab is where we really learned the experimental side of physics,” said Mark Johnson, ’83, product manager at ViaSat Inc. “It’s critically important that every physics student has the opportunity to go through the hands-on lab experience.”
"If a student can walk out
with some ability to think critically,
they just might save the world."
Now, with a $300,000 gift from Cymer, a San Diego-based technology leader that develops light sources for use in advanced lithography to create chips for all electronic devices, SDSU will expand and update the lab in which Morris taught for most of his years at SDSU.
”Cymer is pleased to contribute to and participate in the dedication of the new Cymer Advanced Physics Lab, and the celebration of over 55 years of Doc Morris’s contribution to SDSU and the city of San Diego,” said Ed Brown, president and COO of Cymer, Inc.
Stanley Maloy, the dean of SDSU’s College of Sciences, explained the importance of the Cymer gift to SDSU’s ascendance as a leading research university.
“There are new opportunities and new fields of study arising within physics,” Maloy said. “Our department must not only maintain the foundation established by Doc Morris and other talented faculty, we must also build on it, so that students learn the next level of instrumentation for tomorrow. Cymer’s generous gift will help us achieve that goal.”
SDSU is seeking additional support to expand and update the Cymer Advanced Physics Lab in honor of Doc Morris, who helped launch the careers of thousands of Aztec scientists. And after 55 years, Morris still has high expectations of his students.
“I can’t even comprehend how much he knows,” said graduate student Katherine Beauvais. “But he doesn’t just give you the answer to your question. He helps you analyze your results and try to understand what they mean.”
Morris said he is convinced that the best thing he can do for students is to challenge them with “a really hard course.”
“If I have a legacy,” Morris said, “I’d like it to be that ‘he did his best to teach us to think.’ And that’s the most important thing an instructor can give a student. If he can walk out or she can walk out with some ability to think critically, they just might save the world.”
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