Ruth Chabay

Professor Emerita
Department of Physics
North Carolina State University


From November 1, 2012 to February 1, 2013, I am

Weston Visiting Professor
Department of Science Teaching
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel

Matter & Interactions

I am the co-author of Matter & Interactions, a modern calculus-based introductory physics textbook published by John Wiley & Sons that integrates 20th century physics, including computational modeling, into the introductory physics curriculum. The textbook is currently in its 3rd edition. At you can find more information about the curriculum, including journal articles and 3D lecture-demo programs.

Research Interests

My current research interests focus on the issues involved in integrating computational modeling into introductory courses, both in physics and in interdisciplinary topics. Computational tools allow students not only to model the simple systems typically treated in introductory courses, but to extend these models to include much more complex interactions. The challenges in this enterprise include designing an environment in which students with no background in computation can learn to write simple codes to model physical systems.


VPython is a free, open source 3D programming environment that enables even novice programmers to write simple programs that generate dynamic, interactive 3D animations. VPython is available on Window, MacOS, and Linux.

Recent Ph.D. Dissertations:

Jon D. H. Gaffney: Possibilities: A Framework for Modeling Students' Deductive Reasoning in Physics
Evan Richards: Selecting the Correct Solution to a Physics Problem When Given Several Possibilities
Shawn Weatherford: Student Use of Physics to Make Sense of Incomplete but Functional VPython Programs in a Lab Setting
Brandon Lunk: A Framework for Understanding Physics Students' Computational Modeling Practices