Joe Redish 2013 Oersted Medal RecipientEdward (Joe) Redish Named 2013 Oersted Medal Recipient

College Park, MD, September 15, 2012—Edward Frederick (Joe) Redish has been named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

The Oersted Medal will be presented to Dr. Redish at a Ceremonial Session of the AAPT Winter Meeting in New Orleans, January 7, 2013. Following the presentation, Redish will deliver an address titled, "The Implications of a Theoretical Framework for PER."

Redish earned his B.S. from Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude. He joined the University of Maryland physics department in 1968 after receiving his Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from MIT. From 1968-70 he was a Center for Theoretical Physics Fellow, becoming Assistant Professor in 1970 and Associate Professor in 1974. Redish became a Professor in 1979 and served as Chair of the UMD Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1982-85.

In the 1980s he collaborated with AAPT Executive Officer, Jack Wilson, and other physics colleagues on early projects using computers in education.  The first was the Maryland University Project in physics and Educational Technology (M.U.P.P.E.T.), a project created soon after the appearance of personal computers to demonstrate the value of including this new tool in instruction for physics majors. M.U.P.P.E.T. was a major influence on the CUPS project, in a large national team developed software for upper division physics majors. CUPS influenced both the PhysLets project and the vPython environment.

Following the release of the Windows operating system, he and Wilson developed the Comprehensive Universal Physics Learning Environment (CUPLE) to demonstrate the possibility of using multi-media in a modular way in physics instruction.  

For the past 20 years his research has focused on physics education with an emphasis on the role of student expectations and understanding the kinds of difficulties physics students have with problem solving from introductory to upper division physics. Redish has been a major factor in bringing the ideas of physics education research to the community of STEM education researchers. His book Teaching Physics describes research-based curriculum developments and methods, and was distributed to thousands of physics faculty free by John Wiley & Sons. He is in great demand as a speaker on the topic of physics education research and, since 2000, he has given more than 150 invited talks at conferences and universities around the world.

He has been particularly interested in the development of theoretical models of cognition relevant to education. This has led to development (with Bao) of a new analytical method for combining qualitative and quantitative assessment techniques, and to development (with Saul and Steinberg) of a survey instrument for probing student expectations in physics class (the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey – MPEX). The MPEX has been translated into more than a dozen languages and delivered to more than 10,000 students in the U.S. With Tuminaro and Bing he has developed cognitive models for analyzing student epistemological choices in problem solving at the introductory and advanced levels.

Redish has been co-organizer for three major conferences bringing the topic of education to the university physics community: the Conference on Computers in Physics Instruction (Raleigh, 1988), the International Conference on Undergraduate Physics Education (College Park, 1996), and the first Enrico Fermi Summer School on Physics Education Research (Varenna, Italy, 2003). All three have major published proceedings.

With a strong team of collaborators led by Priscilla Laws, he pioneered a new approach to university physics instruction, The Physics Suite, a synergistic combination of research-based active learning materials and a rewrite of a popular text to blend it with other activities and to modify it to respond to what has been learned from physics education research. He has also created online problems collections for introductory (Thinking Problems in Physics) and advanced physics (Thinking Problems in Mathematical Physics). Redish was also lead developer on an HHMI project to develop a new physics course for biology majors and pre-medical students (Project NEXUS).

He has been a mentor to a large number of physics education researchers and has supervised more than thirty graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in physics education research and nuclear physics.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the AAAS, and the Washington Academy of Science and has received awards for his work in education from the Washington Academy of Science, the Maryland Association for Higher Education, Dickinson College, Vanderbilt University, the Robert A. Millikan Medal from the AAPT, a 2005 NSF Director's Award as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar, the Medal of the International Commission on Physics Education, and most recently, the 2012 ICPE Medal at the World Conference on Physics Education

"Dr. Redish's career exemplifies the outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics for which the Oersted Medal was created. We are honored to recognize his contributions to AAPT and to physics education research," stated Beth Cunningham, AAPT’s Executive Officer.

About the Award
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 and is given annually to a person who has had outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics.

Some previous Oersted awardees are Charles H. Holbrow, F. James Rutherford, George F. Smoot, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Carl Wieman, Lillian McDermott, Hans Bethe, Edward Purcell, and Richard Feynman. The complete list of recipients can be found at

About AAPT
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 teaching. 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.
For more information contact Marilyn Gardner, Director of Communications,, (301) 209-3306, (301) 209-0845 (Fax),