APS News

New Lab Association Elects Officers

The Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA) elected its first officers in November. The organization formed last spring after holding an organizational session at the 2007 APS March Meeting (see APS News, May 2007), and now has over 100 members.

The mission of ALPhA is to encourage communication among those who teach advanced undergraduate laboratory courses and provide professional recognition for those instructors. “ALPhA hopes to become the central advocacy group for advanced experimental physics instruction,” its constitution states.

ALPhA will work closely with both the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and APS. ALPhA will plan sessions at AAPT and APS meetings, suggest invited talks at these meetings, award professional prizes, and plan special conferences on advanced experimental instruction. The organization held an open meeting at the January AAPT meeting, and will have a similar event at the 2008 APS March Meeting.

Recently elected ALPhA president Gabe Spalding of Illinois Wesleyan University has been teaching advanced lab for 12 years, and regards these courses as challenging. “There should be thought given to the experimental curriculum,” he said.

 In addition to fitting in with the rest of the curriculum and teaching appropriate experimental skills, these courses have to teach a “mindset,” said Spalding. A good advanced lab course encourages students to take more ownership of their projects, he added.

“I believe that ALPhA will have an enormous impact on the instruction of the experimental curriculum. This sort of banding together of dedicated instructors can be transformative,” said Spalding.

AAPT has established a listserv devoted to the teaching of advanced laboratory courses. The listserv discusses everything from technical problems with equipment to issues of curriculum, and is open to anyone. It can be found at http://lists.aapt.org/cgi-bin/lyris.pl?enter=advlabs-l

Joining ALPhA costs $10. To join, visit http://www.teachspin.com/signup.shtml

ALPhA’s president, vice-president, and board members will serve two-year terms, the secretary and treasurer four-year terms, and the vice-president will automatically serve a second two-year term as president. The recently elected officers, most of whom are also members of APS, are:

President: Gabriel Spalding,
Illinois Wesleyan University

Vice-President: James Lockhart,
San Francisco State University

Secretary: Mark Masters,
Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne

Treasurer: Steve Wonnell,
Johns Hopkins University

Elected members of the executive board are:

Robert DeSerio,
University of Florida

Paul Dolan,
Northeastern Illinois University

Richard Peterson,
Bethel University

Jonathan Reichert,
TeachSpin, Inc.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff