Dr. Tim Leishman retires from BYU

This news story highlights one of our appreciated emeritus faculty and alumni here in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Dr. Timothy Leishman. Dr. Leishman recently retired from the department, with 2021 being the last year as a full-time BYU professor. He specialized in the study of acoustics and oversaw the construction of the renowned anechoic and reverberation chambers in the basement of the Eyring Science Center. Dr. Leishman taught many courses in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences over the years and touched the lives of many students. He taught Introduction to Mathematical Physics, Physics 318, which lays the mathematical foundation for higher-level physics classes. He also taught the introductory acoustics class, Physics 167, graduate-level acoustics classes, and others. To everyone who knows him, Dr. Leishman is a friendly character who is always open to talking with students about questions related to class topics or his research in acoustical physics.

 Tim Leishman’s career began at BYU as an undergraduate physics student who studied audio and acoustics. After his undergraduate degree, he obtained a Ph.D. in acoustics at Penn State University. His graduate work involved the active control of sound transmission through partitions. While pursuing his education, he also worked as an audio and architectural acoustics consultant. His private consulting work continued throughout his career. He started at BYU as a professor of acoustics in 2000. He loved his students and enjoyed teaching and mentoring them. Those in his research group experienced this at a personal level. He served as an advisor to 40 students as they completed their capstone projects and theses on research projects performed with him. Many of Dr. Leishman’s students have gone on to work as researchers, consultants, or academics in acoustics and related fields. In addition to his work with students, Dr. Leishman regularly published many new findings, authoring 35 articles over his time at BYU. One career highlight was mentoring Sarah Rollins, a BYU undergraduate and graduate student, for her 2005 master’s thesis, “Acoustics of the Salt Lake Tabernacle: Characterization and Study of Spatial Variation.” Dr. Leishman’s expertise, experience, and mentoring spirit made him a leader in acoustics.

Students who have taken classes from Dr. Leishman remember the care and time he invested in making the difficult subjects he taught as easy to follow as possible. In teaching Physics 318, which is known to be a challenging class, Dr. Leishman’s teaching style was unique in that he encouraged students to slowly develop their own books for the course from the detailed lecture notes and handouts he provided—typically filling a binder of about three inches in thickness. At the beginning of each class, Dr. Leishman included a quote by a general authority or other authors to inspire students in their adventure through the physical sciences. One of Dr. Leishman’s students praised him, saying he was “the best teacher I’ve ever had in college. He tried to learn everyone’s name in our class of 80+ students. He did a pretty good job too.” The student added, “Great in lectures, enthusiastic, takes time to explain difficult material.” Dr. Leishman’s teaching and presence at BYU will surely be missed.

Student authors: Christian Hall, Dallin Spencer, and Daniel Tveten

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