December 2019: Marie Lopez del Puerto
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
Marie Lopez del Puerto
- Member since 2008
- Associate Professor of Physics
- St. Paul, MN
I graduated with a physics degree from a small private university in Mexico at the end of a fall semester, which meant I had about eight months before I was to start graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Teaching introductory physics at a local college seemed like an easy and fun job to have for the spring semester, but I quickly found out how unprepared I was and how challenging teaching is! Nobody had taught me how to teach, and though I tried to emulate my favorite professors, it was not easy. However, I greatly enjoyed teaching and the relationships I developed with my students, and I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a better teacher. I find teaching deeply rewarding.
While in graduate school, I learned about the Minnesota section of AAPT and started attending their meetings. The presentations and discussions at those meetings gave me a lot to think about; I joined AAPT shortly afterwards. For me, the two greatest benefits of being an AAPT member are attending the national meetings and the work the association does to set standards for the undergraduate curriculum. For the latter, the recommendations for laboratory and computational physics have been an invaluable resource to the physics program at the University of St. Thomas, where I now teach. For the former, sharing my work on integrating computation in the physics curriculum (yay, PICUP!) has spurred conversations that have made that work better and have pointed me towards new approaches and directions. I meet so many wonderful people and learn so much from attending workshops and presentations, and always come back energized and with new ideas for the courses I teach.
The AAPT mission statement and current focus on increasing diversity in physics and improving teaching effectiveness resonate with me, which has spurred my involvement with the association. I am currently section representative for Minnesota and vice-chair of the Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education. As a member of PICUP (Partnership for the Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics, www.gopicup.org), I am also collaborating with AAPT through joint faculty development projects.