Donald Collins finds physics for us
When a faculty or staff member retires from Warren Wilson, they continue to be part of the college community. Some remain very close and even live on or near campus, while others reconnect each year at the retired faculty and staff luncheon.
Among the 30 educators at the gathering Nov. 4 was a former science professor who digitally maintains his academic presence on campus to this day.
Every Friday throughout the academic year, Donald Collins, who taught in Warren Wilson College’s science department for 42 years, emails the “Physics Photo of the Week” to campus.
The photos are always original and often taken by Collins using a digital camera or a high-powered telescope. Either way, he always writes a short physics lesson to describe what’s happening in the picture. So far in 2016, Collins has presented images and physics lessons on red sunsets, double rainbows, the Andromeda Galaxy, ice sprouts and morning lake fog, among others.
His weekly emails are quick and to the point, but they are also a subtle reminder of Warren Wilson College’s vast community of scholars. Collins sent his first campus-wide email and photo in 2004. Despite retiring in 2012, he has continued to post pictures and his personal insights about physics.
“I have a habit of looking around me and seeing nature and so forth. Then, I’ll get an idea for physics, and I’ll take a picture,” he said. “Here’s physics in everyday life that I try to capture. These are things that you can see.”
Collins maintains an archive on Warren Wilson’s website going back to some of his earliest photos. Each year, he crafts and posts about 30 photos and lessons. Even though he is retired, he still enjoys teaching.
“Now that I’m retired,” he said, “finding the (weekly) photo has become more of a challenge, but I’ve been able to keep it up. Sometimes I use the same theme and maybe the same object, but it’s always a fresh picture. I love it.”
To view Collins’ “Physics Photo of the Week” archive, visit http://inside.warren-wilson.edu/~dcollins/PhysPhotOfWeek/PPOWArchive.html.