Forum on Education Election Results

John Stewart – Vice Chair APS Forum on Education, West Virginia University

The Forum on Education (FEd) congratulates the successful candidates in the most recent election. Lawrence (Larry) Cain of Davidson University was elected FEd Vice Chair. He will serve a four year term becoming Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair. His first responsibility will be organizing next year’s elections. Nominations for candidates may be sent to Larry at Toni Sauncy of Texas Lutheran University was elected as APS/AAPT Member-at-Large and Luz Martinez-Miranda of the University of Maryland – College Park as Member-at-Large. All newly elected FEd officers will begin their term of office immediately after the APS April Meeting in Salt Lake City.

I would also like to thank the other candidates: Mel Sabella, Andrew Gavrin, Eric Brewe, Michael Wittmann, and David Klumpar. Being nominated is an honor that should be recognized by their departments and universities. The slate of candidates was exceptionally strong and I hope many will be elected to leadership roles in the future.

The strong slate of candidates was the result of the careful work of the nominating committee: Ken Heller, Carl Mungan, Wendy Adams, Scott Franklin, and Ramon Lopez. Janelle Bailey represented the American Association of Physics Teachers through the nomination process. This committee has completed its work and a new committee will be convened next year.

Each candidate provided a statement of their goals for their term of office. These were provided with the election emails sent to FEd members and are reprinted below.

Larry Cain: The Forum on Education has involved its members in a wide variety of activities at all stages of education, from elementary through graduate school and beyond. The challenge we face is to keep this involvement strong and broad. From improving instruction at all levels, to teacher preparation, to increasing diversity, to education outreach, and to education issues at the federal, state and local levels, the problems and opportunities are great and the FEd must be a bridge between all of them. However, as the membership in APS has grown, the membership of the FEd has been decreasing. We need to encourage more APS members to be concerned about all aspects of physics education and to join the Forum as we serve the diverse membership of the APS.

We must encourage graduate students, and undergraduates, to be more aware of the issues facing physics education so they can participate in the programs that the Forum supports. This is particularly relevant to two areas: the preparation of new teachers, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, and the support of education in their states and local areas regardless of what careers they pursue.

I will work with the Executive Committee and the membership to maintain and sustain current programs and to form new initiatives, particularly working with the new GPER to promote improved physics education and the FOEP to promote outreach and engagement of the public.

Toni Sauncy: I have been an advocate for physics in and out of the classroom throughout my career, with a focus on engaging undergraduate students in the study of physics as early as possible through research training, science outreach for the general public, and most recently in physics career development. Over the past several years, I have come to understand that the undergraduate physics experience plays an essential role in not only the formation of physicists, but in the making of many other careers. Whether students are studying physics to be physicists, or studying physics to be something else, the value of physics as a way of thinking has proven to be invaluable, making our efforts to be effective educators more impactful. As the number of undergraduate physics degrees awarded each year continues to grow, the value of successful education in physics at the undergraduate level will grow. Physics departments have the opportunity to produce well qualified, highly effective thinkers and problem solvers who will join the STEM workforce in a variety of careers.

My goals for the Forum on Education should I be elected would include working with my colleagues to see that APS FEd communications and sessions include a broad range of topical coverage aimed at the full undergraduate physics education experience, inclusive of the large percentage of students who will not attend physics and astronomy graduate school. We must realize that curricular and extracurricular education programs must include those undergraduate physics students who may not follow the same academic path as their faculty mentors. This includes advocacy for including undergraduate research training as a priority for funding agencies. I hope that my experience in a broad range of the undergraduate physics experience will be beneficial and add to the overall FEd mission.

Luz Martinez-Miranda: Physics is a very important and fundamental field. Many of the advances we see are strongly based on Physics knowledge. These include advances in Materials, Electrical Engineering, Biophysics, and other related fields. Physics is important because of the contributions to basic knowledge. We need to have a population of Physics–trained people that will contribute to basic knowledge, and will further advance the field. I am interested in serving in the Forum on Education because I have an interest in early Physics education, especially in the K-8 level, since I feel that we lose a great number of the potential scientists at this age. By middle school, many students have lost interest in physics specifically and science in general. Students that may be interested in engineering cannot see the relation of this field to physics. My experience in bringing demonstrations or mini-talks to students in middle school (level 6 – 8) has shown me that the more related these are to what the students are learning in school the more interest is generated. I am also interested in increasing the population of underrepresented groups in Physics at all levels, and have been even before I was called to serve in the Committee on Minorities in Physics.

Disclaimer – The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.