Miles Dresser Named Boeing Professor

PULLMAN, Wash. — Miles Dresser, a Washington State University associate professor and
interim chair of the Department of Physics, was named Boeing Distinguished Professor of
Mathematics and Science Education effective July 1.
The Boeing Distinguished Professorships were created in the WSU colleges of sciences and
education to enhance science interest and knowledge among Washington K-12 students and
non-science majors at WSU, as well as to support students interested in majors in science and
mathematics. The professorships are funded by a portion of the $8.6 million campaign gift to
WSU from the Boeing Company. Boeing professors are appointed annually in the College of
Sciences and their two-year terms overlap.
Widely recognized for his development of innovative instructional models, Dresser
emphasizes concepts of force in teaching his physics labs, and has developed group learning,
peer instructional and computer technology models for use in beginning physics courses. He
has served on the Science, Math and Engineering Education Center advisory board since its
formation in 1989 and received the College of Sciences Excellence in Advising Award in 1995.
Dresser was born and reared in Spokane. The 1953 graduate of North Central High School
graduated from Oregon’s Linfield College in 1957 and earned a doctorate from Iowa State
University in 1964. He came to WSU in 1963 and now serves as the physics department’s
associate chair of undergraduate studies.
As a frequent visiting research professor at the Surface Sciences Center at the University of
Pittsburgh, he studied the interaction of molecules on surfaces-work important in the
construction of electronic chips. He held a NORCUS faculty fellowship at the Pacific Northwest
National Laboratories. Dresser has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Pacific
Northwest Association of College Physics since 1990 and president of the Washington Section
of American Association of Physics Teachers. Long active on university committees, he
currently serves on the General Education Review Committee.
Dresser still is often recognized by the public for his radio show, “Science in the News,”
which played on KWSU from 1964-1972 and was syndicated to more than 50 stations across the
nation and broadcast by Voice of America. He chaired the physical science building committee,
which ensured that many innovative instructional features were included in the design of the
labs and lecture halls in WSU’s Webster Physical Science Building.
A report of his research on the ferroelectric structure in ice layers formed at very cold
temperatures was published in the October 1998 issue of the “Journal of Physical Chemistry” and
reviewed in “Nature” in January 1999.
“Miles Dresser is known throughout the nation for his interest and ability in physics
education,” said Dean of Sciences Leon Radziemski. “Being named Boeing Distinguished
Professor is a fitting tribute to his dedication to this cause.”
Dresser is the third Boeing Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science Education
named by the College of Sciences. Prior recipients are astronomy professor Julie Lutz in 1997,
and biology and microbiology associate professor and director of SMEEC John Paznokas in
The College of Education is expected to name their first recipient soon. At that time, the
recipients will make up the Council of Boeing Science and Mathematics Professors at WSU, to
provide leadership to the K-16 science and mathematics education goals at WSU and in the