Physics professor awarded Elkins Professorship

Founder of nanotechnology lab plans to enhance its profile 


TOWSON, Md. (June 6, 2006)—The University System of Maryland has awarded a Wilson H. Elkins Professorship to David Schaefer, Towson University professor of physics, for fiscal year 2007.

This prestigious professorship will bolster Schaefer’s efforts to enhance the profile of the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences’ nanotechnology laboratory. The $28,000 award includes stipends and laboratory supplies for two TU undergraduate research students, plus travel funds to enable them to present their results at professional meetings.

These undergraduates—as well as other students and teachers—will benefit from more opportunities to achieve superior research results in a cutting-edge laboratory setting.  

In a letter announcing the award, University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan said the Elkins Professorship review committee was “particularly impressed with Professor Schaefer’s heavy involvement with undergraduate teaching, research, and advising,” and with the potential to enhance the nanotechnology laboratory’s profile.

Schaefer, a 1986 TU graduate, earned an M.S. and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. He returned to TU in 1995 as an assistant professor of physics and soon afterward began constructing a nanotechnology laboratory with an Atomic Force Microscope. In this lab, he and his students have primarily investigated adhesive forces, electrostatic particle-substrate interactions and the mechanical properties of materials. 

Ever since he began teaching, Schaefer  has subscribed to the view that a significant undergraduate research experience should be provided to all students. To that end, he has mentored more than 25 undergraduate researchers during his 11 years at TU. Many of his former students have gone on to graduate programs, with several working on Ph.D. degrees at such institutions as University of California, Berkeley and The Pennsylvania State University.

Schaefer was promoted to associate professor in 2000; in 2005 he was promoted to full professor.

Read more about Schaefer's research.

The Wilson H. Elkins Professorship was established in 1978 as the first permanently endowed, university-wide professorship at the University of Maryland. The professorship perpetuates the name and contributions of Wilson H. Elkins, president of the university from 1954 to 1978. When the University System of Maryland began in 1988, Dr. Elkins agreed that his professorship should extend to all USM member institutions.



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