Dr. Marie Plumb is a physics professor at Jamestown Community college. Those of us who may have defined physics only as a science that deals with matter, energy, motion and force have simply to meet her to understand the error in that thinking. We mainly feel that the operative dictionary definition (of matter, energy, motion and force) could survive as more than most of us might want to know about physics. We are everyday people living contented lives as teachers, bankers and factory workers. Physics does not enter our mundane worlds of work, meeting the bills, paying the mortgage. Sit for a time with Marie Plumb and you will be fascinated out of your everyday wits, as she explains how physics is part of all our lives, all that we do, every day. Each motion we make, each spurt of energy we expend, each breath of air we breathe and each time we make a fist, there is a reaction involving physics or movement based somehow in science.
Dr. Plumb teaches a course at JCC called ''Understanding Physics.'' She feels that we all must understand the world around us. We commonly build our own idea of the way the world works. If you ask yourself the question ''What must happen for the eye to see?'' You learn that light has to come into the eye; that is how you see. This process involves physics; it is all around you. She tells her students, ''I want you to start looking around you. See what you see.'' Dr. Plumb feels that it is important to start very early, at the elementary level, with students and with that in mind, 20 years ago she began a program involving her physics students who would spend a semester at Love School, teaching the elementary kids the basics of everyday physics. The program exists still today under the guidance of a JCC professor at Panama Central School having the students learn the physics basics, as they should be learning them.
Her exemplary life of education began in 1964 when she graduated from Jamestown High School with a Regents diploma. In 1968, she received a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Master of Arts in teaching mathematics from Notre Dame, and in 1990 she was awarded a Master of Science in physics from St. Bonaventure University. With continued educational fervor, she received a Ph.D. in science education: learning and instruction from the State College at Buffalo. Since 1996 to the present, she has been a full professor at JCC in the physics faculty. Prior to this, she has had many years of experience teaching physics and mathematics, in Alaska and Indiana, while accompanying her husband, John, who was a captain the U.S. Army for four years. They both returned to Jamestown in 1974, Marie having been born here and John, a native of Long Island. Marie was hired as a mathematics teacher at JCC and John commenced his law practice. Marie has been a full professor, an assistant professor and an associate professor in her career at the college. As she puts it, ''I love teaching and have always been eager to have my students understand the presence of physics in our everyday lives.'' Marie Plumb plans to retire in May of this year, after many years of doing what she loves best.
Dr. Marie Plumb
The other loves in her life, including husband John, five children and seven grandchildren, keep her busy and complete her life in soul-satisfying ways. Her oldest son John, with a Ph.D., is an aerospace engineer with the U.S. Department of Defense; her daughter Julie, an attorney in New York City; and one daughter, Sara, has two daughters and is a physician's assistant at John Hopkins Hospital.
Beginning in 2000, Dr. Plumb presented papers on physics, presented public lectures, designed a program with a local elementary school, worked on in-service programs in physics for teachers, presented a physics paper in 2003 for physics teachers called ''Likes Repel; Unlikes Attract'' and lays claim to several papers to the National Science Foundation on Research Experiences. Her impeccable credentials, her lively manner, her devotion to her physics specialty and other academic achievements will make her absence at JCC a notable one. We wish her well in her retirement pursuits.