- American Physical Society Sites
- Meetings & Events
- Policy & Advocacy
- Careers In Physics
- About APS
- Become a Member
What do physicists do? Who can become a physicist? These are common student questions. Hopefully you will see the answers can be: EVERYTHING and ANYONE, including YOU. Physics is a branch of science that studies matter, its components, its motion, as well as how it interacts with energy and forces. There are many branches of physics including mechanics, electricity, astronomy, motion, waves, sound, and light. Physics studies the smallest elementary particles and atoms as well as the largest stars and the universe. Come and learn all you can do with physics by discovering the work of amazing physicists working across many disciplines in science, media, technology, and beyond.
We hope you will be inspired to explore physics by learning about the amazing discoveries and stellar accomplishments of physicists, such as:
Caprice earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and math and is working on her PhD at Ohio State University. Her research includes characterizing and detecting atmospheric gasses around brown dwarfs and exoplanets for habitability studies. She is the vice president of Black in Astro, a movement which aims to celebrate and amplify the Black experience in space related fields. She enjoys outreach in science; mentoring at University of Texas, Austin, (UT Austin) and assisting with science activities and demos for the UT Girls in STEM day.
Dr. Burnell earned her undergraduate degree in physics and received her PhD in radio astronomy from the University of Cambridge. She discovered the first pulsar, a cosmic source of specific radio waves, that had never been characterized before. The 1974 Nobel Prize was awarded to some of her supervisors for this discovery. Due to her student status, she was not named in the award. However, 50 years later, she won $3 million from the The Breakthrough Prize, funded by Silicon Valley leaders including Mark Zuckerberg. This is the largest monetary science prize in the world.
Lynett is a Cherokee nation citizen and an award winning educator. She earned undergraduate and masters degrees in physics and a PhD in education. She is a physics and math professor at Connors Community College in her hometown. She uses her position to encourage Native American students to pursue higher education in science.
Kate double majored in physics and writing and has turned these passions into a career. She has worked for national labs and universities as a science journalist, communicating their initiatives to the public. She has also created many raps to teach about science concepts. You can find them on YouTube.
Debbie is the first Mexican woman to have received a PhD in physics from Stanford University. She is an award winning speaker, TV host, communicator, volunteer, and analyst. She formerly worked as risk analyst for Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street firms and now is the chief data scientist at Metis, a leading data science training company. She uses her many talents and interests to make physics come alive to diverse audiences with varying degrees of scientific knowledge.
Dr. Gates is an award winning physicist who made many contributions to the field of theoretical physics, specifically supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. He received his bachelor’s degree and PhD in physics from MIT. He was a professor at the University of Maryland for almost 40 years. He is the first African American to become an endowed professor at a major American research university. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences as the first African American theoretical physicist recognized in its 150-year history. In the same year, President Obama awarded Jim the National Medal of Science.
APS and STEP UP's goal for the PhysicsQuest 2022 kits is to introduce students to these and many other physicists so they can see themselves represented in the physics community and begin to identify with physics as a possible degree and career path. STEP UP is a national community of physics teachers, researchers, and professional societies. We design high school physics lessons to empower teachers, create cultural change, and inspire young women to pursue physics in college. In this edition of PhysicsQuest you will find teacher’s guides with extensive implementation notes and fillable PDFs for the student guides for two lessons: Careers in Physics and Women in Physics. Both can stand alone or be taught in tandem.
This lesson covers careers you can have with a physics degree, particularly those that help solve societal problems. It helps students assess their personal values in relation to a career in physics, examine profiles of professionals with physics degrees, and envision themselves in a physics career. The PhysicsQuest 2022: Physics Together lesson can be found on the STEP UP website in the middle school section. A thorough teachers guide with implementation notes and student guides is also available.
This lesson focuses on the underrepresentation of women in physics and the role of implicit bias and cultural stereotypes. It helps students examine the conditions for women in physics and discuss gender issues with respect to famous physicists, gendered professions, and personal experience to neutralize the effect of stereotypes and bias. Students participate in an interactive presentation, in which data about women in physics and the role of culture and society are considered. A thorough teachers guide with implementation notes and student guides is also available.
Discover more PhysicsQuest lessons and inspire students' passion for science.
Review APS's initiatives and programs to support physics educators and students.