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AAPT Announces 2014 Winter Meeting Plenary Speakers


For more information, please contact:
Marilyn Gardner, American Association of Physics Teachers
office: 301-209-3306   Email: mgardner@aapt.org

College Park, Maryland, United States, December 19, 2013—The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) has announced its 2014 Winter Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The meeting will take place on January 4-7. Plenary sessions will feature the Oersted Medal winner, Dean Zollman; the Richtmyer Memorial Award recipient, Professor Sir Michael Barry; NASA Astronaut, Donald R. Tettit; and the Kennedy Space Center’s Philip Metzger.

Sunday, January 5

Techno-Stories from Space, by Donald R. Pettit
7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Donald Roy Pettit, a chemical engineer and NASA astronaut, is a veteran of two long-duration stays aboard the International Space Station, one space shuttle mission, and a six-week expedition to find meteorites in Antarctica. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arizona. A veteran of three spaceflights, Pettit has logged more than 370 days in space and over 13 EVA (spacewalk) hours. He was a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, from 1984 to 1996. Projects there included reduced gravity fluid flow and materials processing experiments onboard the NASA KC-135 airplane, atmospheric spectroscopy on noctilucent clouds seeded from sounding rockets, fumarole gas sampling from volcanoes and problems in detonation physics. He was a member of the Synthesis Group, slated with assembling the technology to return to the Moon and explore Mars (1990) and the Space Station Freedom Redesign Team (1993). In 2006, Pettit joined the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET), spending six weeks in Antarctica collecting meteorite samples, including a lunar meteorite. He lived aboard the International Space Station for 5½ months during Expedition 6, was a member of the STS-126 crew, and again lived aboard the station for 6½ months as part of the Expedition 30/31 crew in 2011. During Expedition 30, Petitt made a video using an Angry Birds character to explain how physics works in space.

Monday, January 6

Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award, How Quantum Physics Democratized Music, Professor Sir Michael Berry 
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Sir Michael Berry is a world-renowned theoretical physicist who is famous for his discovery of geometric phase effects (“Berry’s phase”) in quantum mechanics. His more than 450 scientific publications cover topics ranging from glaciers, to nonlinear dynamics, to optical diffraction, quantum chaos, and caustics. He is also author of Principles of Cosmology and Gravitation. With a well-deserved reputation for polished, elegant, and illuminating lectures, he has brought the excitement of contemporary theoretical physics to audiences around the world.

Berry is Melville Wills Professor of Physics (Emeritus), University of Bristol. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Exeter and a PhD in theoretical physics from University of St. Andrews. He holds 10 honorary Doctorates and one honorary professorship. His career has developed at the University of Bristol, first as a postdoctoral fellow, then lecturer and then reader before becoming professor in 1979. From 2006-2012 he was Editor of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Berry specializes in semiclassical physics (asymptotic physics, quantum chaos) applied to wave phenomena in quantum mechanics and other areas such as optics. He has given many prestigious lectures and has held visiting positions in Nigeria, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Israel, Mexico, and Belgium.

The Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award is given in memory of Floyd K. Richtmyer, distinguished physicist, teacher, and administrator. Professor Richtmyer was one of the founders of AAPT and served as its president. As a teacher, author, research worker, and dean, he was the guide for many young physicists who became leaders of American science and he has had a wide influence on the development of physics in the United States. The award has been given since 1941 to a person who has made outstanding contributions to physics and effectively communicated those contributions to physics educators.

Preparing Physicists for the Industrial Revolution of Space, by Philip Metzger
2–3  p.m.
Philip Metzger, PhD, is a senior research physicist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where he founded and leads the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory, part of the KSC Swamp Works. He performs research related to solar system exploration: predicting how rocket exhaust interacts with extraterrestrial soil, investigating the mechanics of soil, characterizing lunar and martian soil simulants, modeling the migration of volatiles on airless bodies, etc. He leads the agency’s work in rocket blast effects for human-class missions. He has participated in architecture studies for the Lunar Architecture Team, the Mars Architecture Team, and the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. He is also leading projects to develop extraterrestrial excavators, regolith conveyance technologies, dust-tolerant quick disconnects, lunar/martian landing pads, and other surface systems technology. He co-founded NASA’s biannual Workshop on Granular Materials in Lunar and Martian Exploration and is a founding member of the ASCE Technical Committee for Regolith Operations, Mobility and Robotics. He received the astronaut’s Silver Snoopy award in 2010 and was selected as the Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Scientist/Engineer of the Year for 2011.

Tuesday, January 7

Oersted Medal
Physics Education Research and Teaching Modern Physics, Dean Zollman 

10–11 a.m. 
The Oersted Medal for 2014 is presented to Dean Zollman in recognition of his significant contributions to physics education research and mentoring of a generation of PER researchers. Zollman earned his BS and MS in Physics from Indiana University, Bloomington. His PhD in Theoretical Nuclear Physics was earned at the University of Maryland, College Park. He started his career as Assistant Professor at Kansas State University in 1970, becoming Associate Professor (1977), Professor (1982), Distinguished University Teaching Scholar (1997), University Distinguished Professor (2001), and Head of the Department of Physics and William and Joan Porter Professor from 2001 to 2011.
Zollman has achieved many of the milestones considered indicative of an intellectual giant in the physics education field—rising up the academic ladder to spend over 30 years as a full professor, authoring an extensive record of research publications with dozens of co-authors, securing an impressive record of consistent extramural funding for over three decades, and mentoring a long list of students and postdocs who have gone on to establish themselves in the field.
His contributions to physics are threefold—a dedicated pursuit to the application of advanced technologies to bring the beauty of physics to all learners, an unwavering commitment to mentoring his protégés long after they leave school to find their own way in the world, and continuing physics education research and the impact of that research on the teaching and learning of physics.  Zollman was Visiting Associate Professor and NSF Faculty Fellow at the University of Utah. He has been a guest professor in Germany at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich in 1989 and 2006 and at the Institute for Science Education (IPN) in Kiel in 1998 and 2007. 
The Oersted Medal is named for Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), a Danish physicist who, in the course of creating a demonstration for teaching his class, discovered that electric currents caused a magnetic field. This was a crucial step in establishing the theory of electromagnetism, so important in building modern technology and modern physics. The award was established by AAPT in 1936.

AAPT Symposium on Physics Education and Public Policy
1:30–3  p.m.
Policymakers formulate decisions everyday that impact curriculum, standards, funding, and many other aspects of physics education at all levels. AAPT works with a number of partners to keep policymakers informed on the views of physics educators and to suggest appropriate policy options within the Association’s sphere of influence. This session brings together individuals who play pivotal roles in helping to shape policies and who provide information to policymakers. We hope to provide a look at the process of policy making as well as actions you might make to contribute to decisions about policies affecting physics and STEM education.
 Juan-Carlos Aguilar, Division of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Georgia Department of Education, Atlanta, GA
Juan-Carlos Aguilar is the Georgia Department of Education science program manager. He oversees state policy in the area of science education, coordinates K-12 science curriculum development, co-directs Georgia’s K-12 STEM initiative, supervises the alignment of the state assessments with the Georgia Performance Standards for science and serves as liaison between the Georgia Department of Education and the different science organizations across the state, as well as the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia University System in the area of science. He is the president of the Council of State Science Supervisors, an organization composed of science education specialists who serve at the state, territorial, or the protectorate educational agency in the United States and U.S. Territories. In addition, Aguilar was the principal investigator on the Georgians Experience Astronomy Research in the Classroom grant ($1.3 million) funded by NASA.

Paula R. Heron, University of Washington, Dept. of Physics, Seattle, WA
Paula R.L. Heron is a Professor of Physics at the University of Washington. She holds a BS. and an MSc in physics from the University of Ottawa and a PhD in theoretical physics from Western University.  She joined the Physics Department at the University of Washington in 1995. Her research focuses primarily on student ability to apply what they have learned about the dynamics of point particles in more advanced contexts involving elastic media, rigid bodies, etc. She has given numerous invited talks on her research at national and international meetings and in university science departments. Heron is co-founder and co-chair of the biannual “Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research” conference series, the premier venue for physics education researchers in North America.  She has served on the Executive Committee of the Forum on Education of the American Physical Society (APS), the Committee on Research in Physics Education of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and on the ad hoc National Research Council committee on the status and outlook for undergraduate physics education. In 2007 she was elected Fellow of the APS. In 2008 she shared the APS Education award with colleagues Peter Shaffer and Lillian McDermott. Heron is a co-author on the upcoming 2nd edition of Tutorials in Introductory Physics, a set of instructional materials that has been used in over 200 institutions in the US and that has been translated into German and Spanish.

About AAPT
AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists, and industrial scientists—with members worldwide. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching, AAPT provides awards, publications, and programs that encourage teaching practical application of physics principles, support continuing professional development, and reward excellence in physics education. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.


The 2014 Winter Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) takes place from January 4-7 in Orlando, FL at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Information and registration will be available at the hotel.

Main meeting site: http://www.aapt.org/Conferences/wm2014/
AAPT abstracts: http://www.aapt.org/Conferences/wm2014/session.cfm
Rosen Plaza Hotel: http://www.aapt.org/Conferences/wm2014/hotelpage.cfm

Science writers intending to go to the meeting should contact Marilyn Gardner (mgardner@aapt.org) or 301-209-3306 about free registration. Journalists are encouraged to register in advance. Press badges can be picked up at the meeting registration desk and will allow you to attend all scientific sessions and exhibits.