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Jeff Marx

I am a professor in the Physics Department and enjoy teaching classes at all levels, from general science courses, such as Astronomy and The Nature of Science, up through senior-level Quantum Mechanics. For my excellence in teaching, I was awarded the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the highest honor McDaniel College bestows on its faculty. Outside of the Physics Department, I also teach backpacking and juggling.

My research centers on two areas: pedagogy and theoretical modeling. My pedagogy research focuses on improving how students learn physics. I have been awarded two large grants from the National Science Foundation for innovative curricular development and have authored many peer-reviewed publications on developing students’ problem-solving abilities, shifting their attitudes about science, and understanding students’ fundamental misconceptions about physical concepts. On my other research front, I work closely with undergraduate science students developing comprehensive theoretical models (and complementary experiments) investigating intriguing physical systems. Some recent examples include determining the optimal grip on a lacrosse stick for an overhand throw, detailing the interaction and paths of two orbit-swapping moons circling Saturn, characterizing and constructing a wireless power transmission system, and studying the fluid dynamics of capillary wakes.


Ph.D. in Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
B.S. in Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Research Interests

  • Pedagogy: Designing innovative curricula; improving students' problem-solving abilities, scientific attitudes, and understanding of concepts
  • Computer Modeling: Astrophysics, geophysics, sports physics, fluid dynamics, and chaotic systems

  • Experimental Physics: Instrument design, fluid dynamics, and sports physics

Recent Courses

  • PHY 1114 and 1115: General Physics I and II

  • PHY 2209 and 3309: Investigations in Physics I and II

  • PHY 3311: Thermodynamics

Selected Publications

  • J. Marx and S. Mian, Using Non-Principal Rays to Form Images in Geometrical Optics. Physics Teacher, Vol. 53 (8), p. 497 - 499 (2015)

  • J. Marx and K. Cummings, Development of a Survey Instrument to Gauge Students' Problem-Solving Abilities. 2010 Physics Education Conference Proceedings, AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1289, edited by C. Singh, M. Sabella, and S. Rebellp, p. 221 - 224 (2010)

  • K. Cummings and J. Marx, Beta-Test Data On An Assessment Of Textbook Problem Solving Ability: An Argument For Right/Wrong Grading? 2010 Physics Education Conference Proceedings, AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1289, edited by C. Singh, M. Sabella, and S. Rebellp, p. 113 - 116 (2010)

  • R. Thornton, D. Kuhl, K. Cummings, and J. Marx, Comparing the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation and the Force Concept Inventory. Physical Review, Special Topics: Physics Education Research, 5, 010105 (2009)

  • S. Mian, J. Marx, and V. Pagonis, Bringing the Two Cultures Together Through A World of Light and Color. Forum on Public Policy Online, Summer 2008 edition (2009)

Clubs and community involvement

  • Faculty Advisor to the Outing Club

  • American Association of University Professors

  • American Association of Physics Teachers

  • Frequent contributor to local media outlets regarding upcoming astronomical events

  • Peer-reviewer for the following journals: American Journal of Physics, Proceedings of the Physics Education Research Conference, Physical Review Physics Education Research, and The Physics Teacher

Awards and Honors

  • NSF-TUES grant focusing on a general science course to improve science literacy, May 2010

  • Ira Zepp Teaching Award, March 2004 (Previously nominated in 2002)

  • Mellon Research and Creativity Grant, May 2004 and May 2002

  • NSF-CCLI grant incorporating hands-on learning activities into an innovative general science optics course, May 2001

  • Walter Eppenstein Teaching Award, May 1995

Jeff Marx

"My teaching philosophy consists of three fundamentals: defined goals, interactive style, and passion. Goals are theoretical and establish a framework for each class and course; style is practical and reflects my experience and commitment to pedagogical innovation; passion unites them and informs my drive to affect and inspire my students."