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Dr. Stephanie Chasteen is the 2024 recipient of the Lillian McDermott Medal

2024 Recipient of the Lillian McDermott Medal is Dr. Stephanie Chasteen

Stephanie ChasteenThe American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephanie Chasteen as the 2024 recipient of the Lillian McDermott Medal, to be awarded at the 2024 Summer Meeting. This award recognizes those who are passionate and tenacious about improving the teaching and learning of physics and have made intellectually creative contributions in this area.

Chasteen is specifically recognized “For essential contributions in program development and evaluation and sharing the results of physics education research with the physics community that have proven to be an integral part of meeting the greater needs of the broad physics community, providing research-based and community-based knowledge responsible for equipping physics educators to build thriving programs at all levels aimed at best serving the needs of students.”

Regarding her receipt of the McDermott Medal, Chasteen said, “I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award and recognition for my contributions to our community’s work. I have been passionate about science communication and education since my early days as a physicist and am proud that I have been able to bring my talents to accelerate improvements in physics education.”

Chasteen has made extraordinary contributions to physics education, having served as a consultant on over 50 STEM education projects, helping departments and faculty take up new practices that embrace educational innovations. Although many of her contributions have been as an external evaluator, she has also contributed significantly to educational workshop design and translating research to teaching practice in numerous settings.

Chasteen is passionate about the power of external evaluation to have meaningful impacts on the world. As an external evaluator, Chasteen worked behind the scenes to help project leaders enhance the impact of national-scale efforts such as the Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (NFW), Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), Get the Facts Out (GFO), and Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) – as well as dozens of smaller projects. Her broad background and keen eye led her to make significant intellectual contributions to these projects along with concrete suggestions of how they can improve. Through external evaluation, she has brought a steady and powerful passion that has steered projects to higher impact and increased accountability within the projects themselves and to their sponsors.

Chasteen received her Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco. She has been an activist in educational reform, sparked by her time at the Exploratorium and further informed by her time in the Science Education Initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her communication skills were enhanced through an early career in science journalism, including an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellowship at National Public Radio.

In her role as a communicator, she has authored and made significant contributions to many enduring and influential works, including a podcast on teaching and learning physics, popular articles hosted by PhysPort, the assessment section in the EP3 Guide, the Science Education Initiative Handbook, and the influential white paper “How to work with external evaluators,” hosted on the AAPT website. Her impressive h-index of 20 and more than 1800 citations on Google Scholar underscore her standing as a thought leader in her field.

In her most recent work, she played a pivotal role in the redesign of the Faculty Teaching Institute (FTI, the successor to the New Faculty Workshop), shifting the focus of this workshop from hearing from multiple experts to organizing around developing reflective teaching practices. Because of her work on this project 100’s of new physics faculty will start their teaching careers with more pedagogical knowledge and a reflective mindset, positively impacting 1000’s of students.

Colleagues appreciate her careful attention to detail as well as her grasp of the big picture, ensuring that both the content and structure of her work is at once practical, useful, and actionable. She has, through her work on these many projects, been instrumental in driving departmental reforms and promoting the teaching profession and has had a profound and lasting impact on the landscape of physics education.

Although her career has unfortunately been curtailed due to health issues, she commented recently, “I consider the physics education community as family and am deeply appreciative to have this award serve as a lovely capstone of my career!” The community couldn’t agree more in awarding her this high recognition of her life’s work.

About the Award
The Lillian McDermott Medal recognizes those who are passionate and tenacious about improving the teaching and learning of physics and have made intellectually creative contributions in this area. The recipient delivers an address at an AAPT Summer Meeting and receives a monetary award, the McDermott Medal, an Award Certificate, and travel expenses to the meeting.

About AAPT
The AAPT is the premier national organization and authority on physics and physical science education with members worldwide. Our mission is to advance the greater good through physics education. We provide our members with many opportunities for professional development, communication, and student enrichment. We serve the larger community through a variety of programs and publications. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.