From the Chair

Larry Woolf

As the new chair, I am looking forward to an exciting year for the Forum on Education (FEd). First and foremost, the success of the FEd depends on the dedicated efforts of many talented individuals. I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the past Chair, Peter Collings, who did double duty by simultaneously chairing the APS Committee on Education during his tenure. I would also like to thank the members of the FEd Executive Committee who recently completed their terms: Ernie Malamud, previous past chair, for 4 years of service in the chair line and a long history of service to the FEd; G. Samuel Lightner, APS/AAPT Member at Large; and Olivia Castellini, APS Member-at-Large. I welcome the newly elected members: Vice-Chair Renee Diehl, APS/AAPT Member-at-Large Richard Peterson, and APS Member-at-Large Alice Churukian.

The FEd continues to attract a large fraction of APS members. The only larger units are the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics, the Forum on Physics and Society, and the Division of Condensed Matter Physics. Current FEd membership is about 4700, nearly 10% of the APS.

At the March and April Meetings, the FEd invited and focus sessions were very well attended. The FEd organized or co-sponsored 14 invited sessions and 2 focus sessions on a wide range of educational topics. Thanks to all the session organizers and chairs for a fine job.

The FEd website has seen numerous updates thanks to the efforts of our exemplary Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Mason. Bruce has recently updated the newsletter index and posted the APS FEd – AAPT Understanding on Joint Sessions, as well as the FEd Executive Committee Calendar

Initial planning is already underway for the 2011 March and April meetings. Chair-Elect Chandralekha Singh is the program chair, so if you have any suggestions for invited sessions, focus sessions, or workshops, please contact her at

As mentioned above, the FEd depends on the efforts of many dedicated volunteers. Our newly elected Vice-Chair Renee Diehl is the chair of the nominating committee for the next slate of candidates. Please send suggestions for nominees, yourself included, to her at Next year, there will be open positions for the vice-chair, APS Member-at-Large, APS/AAPT Member-at-Large, and Secretary-Treasurer. See details about the responsibilities of each of these positions.

Another key role for the FEd is the publication of 3 newsletters per year. Taking on the role of a newsletter editor is rewarding and interesting; members of the FEd Executive Committee and former newsletter editors are available for assistance. A prime example of a dedicated volunteer is this issue’s editor, Carl Mungan. This will be the second newsletter that Carl has either co-edited or edited. We are currently looking for an editor for the Spring 2011 issue as well as future newsletters. Contact me at if you are interested.

Please consider writing an article or a letter to the editor for the newsletter. If you have an interesting program, experience, or strong opinion on any issue related to physics education, the newsletter is your outlet to communicate and possibly influence the physics education community. Contact a newsletter editor for further details.

In my candidate statement, I discussed 3 areas that I wanted to focus on during my tenure in the chair line: (1) Providing an industrial physics perspective on undergraduate and graduate physics education; (2) Encouraging physicists to engage in the variety of roles that are available for improving science education; and (3) Publicizing and providing physics education research in a user friendly package to K - 12 teachers. Some of these areas have been explored at recent meetings [1–2]. Please consider sharing your expertise in these areas, either via suggestions for invited or focus sessions, workshops, or newsletter articles.


[1] “Tutorial on Physics Careers in Industry and Government,” APS 2010 March Meeting.
[2] “Preparing Physics Students for Careers in Industry,” APS 2009 March Meeting.

Larry Woolf is principal optical scientist and senior program manager at General Atomics, where he has been active in education activities since 1992, mostly focused on K - 12 science.

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 APS.