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‘Physics Evangelist’ Professor Pens Physics Textbook to Make Subject ‘Accessible’

‘Physics Evangelist’ Professor Pens Physics Textbook to Make Subject ‘Accessible’

R.E. Tremblay chairs the mathematics and science department at GCC, where he has taught for three decades.  A holder of B.S., M.S. and sixth-year degrees from Southern Connecticut State University (where he also taught, from 1978 to 2014), Tremblay is the co-author of the textbook Physics with Health Science Applications, the second edition of which (ISBN 1524932418) was published by Kendall Hunt on August 18.

Gateway science professor R.E. (Rocky) Tremblay lives by a simple motto: “The Universe is knowable”.  To prove it, he’s written a new physics textbook, by accident.

Unlike, say, taking out the trash or trimming the shrubbery surrounding the Woodbridge alpaca farm he shares with his wife, Cathy, one imagines researching, writing and editing a 512-page science textbook, Physics with Health Science Applications (2nd Ed., Kendall Hunt, 2017), to be an undertaking not quite for the faint of heart.  But the project, which spanned more than ten years, didn’t start out that way.

When Tremblay began teaching PHY 111, Physics for the Life Sciences, at Gateway in 1987 he chose Physics with Health Science Applications as principal text for the class.  Then in its first edition (published in 1985 by Wiley) by Sacramento (Calif.) State University physics and astronomy professor Paul Peter Urone, the volume was at the time a standard text for teaching algebra-based physics to applied-health and nursing students.  “It was a great book,” Tremblay recounts, “but I quickly realized that my students couldn’t read the book with any degree of understanding.  They were relying [instead] on what I presented in the classroom.  So I started rewriting parts of the book to expand on [Urone’s] examples.  Instead of an example having one or two steps, maybe it would have five or six steps.  I also added conceptual pieces to the book and created my own website [to supplement the text for students].  All I was trying to do was to make these topics more accessible to my students.

“So over the years, on my own little island, I ended up with a pretty comprehensive second edition without that even being my purpose,” Tremblay explains.  “Serendipity, right?” That’s how this August, with a new publisher (Kendall Hunt) and the imprimatur of its original author, a second edition of Physics with Health Science Applications (with Urone credited as co-author) became a reality.  “This,” Tremblay enthuses, “is so cool.”  (Tremblay is donating his share of royalties from sales of the book to GCC students to the college’s General Fund.)

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