2016 Jonathan F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction

This award is to recognize and honor outstanding achievement in teaching, sustaining (for at least four years), and enhancing an advanced undergraduate laboratory course or courses at US institutions. The course(s) should provide a selection of experiments in a range of the various interest areas of physics, for example atomic physics, electronics and optics.

Van Bistrow photo

Van Bistrow

This year, the award honors Van D. Bistrow at the University of Chicago.

The citation reads, "For persistent dedication to the improvement of advanced undergraduate laboratories at the University of Chicago, the consistent support of student success, and for promoting the national discourse on advanced laboratories."


Van Bistrow received his B.A. with an emphasis on Philosophy of Science in 1966 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Considering a teaching career, he received his Master of Arts in Teaching Physics in 1973 and his M.S. degree in Physics in 1974, both from the University of Chicago. While a graduate student at UChicago, Van was a teaching assistant in its Graduate Lab Course. In 1974 he began working full-time in the instructional labs at UChicago, and in 1997 he was promoted to Director of Instructional Labs. In this capacity he teaches, develops lab exercises, writes lab manuals, trains TAs and is a member of the Physics Department's Teaching Activities Committee. His first love is working with students, teaching one-on-one. Van's keen interest in sharing what he has learned has led him to encourage others to do so. He has been an active member of the American Association of Physics Teachers. In that setting he has led workshops on Advanced and Intermediate Instructional Labs, served on and was spokesman for the AAPT Advanced Labs Task Force, charged with identifying ways AAPT could help Advanced Lab developers. He helped with the design of AAPT's Advanced Labs website, and was co-organizer and presenter at the Conference on Instructional Labs "Beyond the First Year" at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a member of the Advanced Labs Physics Association, AlPha, co-presenting an AlPha Immersion on Single-Photon Interference at the University of Chicago, training other Advanced Lab developers to provide this experiment for their students. He is also a member of the Physics Instructional Resource Association (PIRA), an international group of professionals, dedicated to physics education. Van is an accomplished amateur cellist, having played in numerous chamber ensembles and the UChicago Symphony Orchestra for 30 years.

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