Richard Wolfson is Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics at Middlebury College, where he also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program and at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey. He did undergraduate work in physics and philosophy at MIT and Swarthmore. He holds a master’s in environmental studies from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in physics from Dartmouth. Wolfson’s research involves the Sun, climate change, and solar energy. Other published work encompasses medical physics, plasma physics, electronics, nuclear issues, and astrophysics. His books Nuclear Choices: A Citizen’s Guide to Nuclear Technology and Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified exemplify Wolfson’s interest in making science accessible to nonscientists. Textbooks include Essential University Physics and Energy, Environment, and Climate. Wolfson has published in Scientific American and wrote for World Book Encyclopedia. His video courses for The Teaching Company’s Great Courses series include Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution, Physics in Your Life, Earth’s Changing Climate, Physics and Our Universe, and Understanding Modern Electronics. He has lectured in the One-Day University and for Scientific American Travel. Wolfson has spent sabbaticals at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, St. Andrews University, and Stanford University. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Areas of Interest
I’m passionate about knowing how the universe works. That’s why I’m a scientist. I’m enthusiastic about sharing that passion with others—especially nonscientists. And I recognize that the findings of science are relevant to understanding human impacts on planet Earth and in debates on the best policies for protecting the environment for ourselves and Earth’s other inhabitants. All these passions inform my enthusiasm for teaching—in the classroom and through public lectures, books, articles, and video courses that bring science to life for nonscientists.
BA in Physics & Philosophy, Swarthmore College, 1969.
MS in Environmental Studies, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, 1971. Thesis topic: Environmental Ethics.
Ph.D. in Physics, Dartmouth, 1976. Thesis topic: Astrophysics of cosmic x-ray sources.