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Faculty in Physics, Environmental Science, Math Honored with Endowed Professorships

(Posted July 12, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Three members of the Juniata College faculty were named to academic chairs or named professorships in physics, environmental science and mathematics at a recent meeting of the faculty.

James Borgardt, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa., was named as the William W. Woolford Professor of Physics; Dennis Johnson, a resident of Alexandria, Pa., was named the George "Fritz" Blechschmidt Chair in Environmental Science; and Jerry Kruse, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa., was named the John and Irene Dale Professor in Math and Computer Science.

Jim Borgardt came to Juniata in 1998 from the University of Arizona, where he was a lecturer in physics. He earned a doctorate and master's degree in physics from the University of Arizona, and two bachelor's degrees, in physics and mathematics, from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

William W. Woolford was president of the Herman D. Steel Co. in Philadelphia. He passed away in 2004.

He was promoted to associate professor in 2004 and promoted to full professor in 2010. He received the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2003. At Juniata, he has established several popular physics outreach events. Mall Physics features demonstrations at a local shopping mall, and Physics Phun Night offers live demonstrations onstage in Juniata's Alumni Hall. As sponsor of the Society for Physics Students, Borgardt has led the student club to outstanding chapter awards for more than 10 straight years.

He has served as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Arizona and a Medical College Admissions Test Physics Instructor. Borgardt received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Arizona, and an AAPT Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

He has a number of published articles dealing with ion beam analysis, nuclear reactions and nuclear microprobes. He has also presented at conferences such as the 13th International Conference on Ion Beam Analysis and the 14th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry.

He is currently a member of the American Institute of Physics, the Council on Undergraduate Research, and the Philosophy of Science Association.

Dennis Johnson came to the Juniata faculty as assistant professor of environmental science in 1999. He was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2009.

Fritz Blechschmidt is a former U.S. Army physician and he maintained private practices in California and Colorado. He graduated from Juniata in 1954.

Johnson teaches a variety of environmental science courses, including hydrology, water resources and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He earned a bachelor's degree from Lock Haven University and a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Penn State University, both in 1989. He went on to earn a master's degree in 1992 and a doctorate in 1995 in civil engineering from Penn State.

He just finished a three-year appointment as assistant provost at Juniata.

He started his academic career as an instructor and assistant professor at Penn State and worked as a research hydrologist in 1996-97 at the National Weather Service. Before coming to Juniata, Johnson worked as assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University, in Houghton, Mich. Johnson has also served as an instructor in multiple capacities for the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He has written numerous articles for such professional journals as the Journal of American Water Resources, ACSE Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, Computers & Geosciences, and Weather.

Johnson has served as both an assistant and consulting engineer for the City of Lock Haven, A.C. Miller and Associates, Capitol Engineering Corp., Port Matilda Borough Authority and Duffy and Associates. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Geophysical Union, and Michigan Technical University Remote Sensing & Environmental Monitoring Institute.

Jerry Kruse joined the Juniata faculty as an assistant professor in 1999. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois and went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in applied mathematics from Brown University. He is a member of numerous honor societies including Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Golden Key, and Phi Eta Sigma. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005. He was promoted to full professor earlier this year.

The Dale Professorship is named for John Dale, a 1954 Juniata graduate, and his wife, Irene, who have been principal donors for several information technology-related projects at the college, including refurbishing Dale Hall and creation of the college's Information Technology program.

In 2011 Kruse also was named a Teagle Teaching and Learning Scholar as part of the Council for Aid to Education's Collegiate Learning Assessment Project in the fall. Kruse also won the 2011 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Allegheny Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association of America in April.

Before starting his career in higher education, Kruse served as software engineer for Compaq Computer Corporation in the Mathematics Library Group, where he developed high-performance numerical routines. He also worked for the DuPont Company in such positions as database administrator, information center analyst, and data center supervisor.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.