University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, October 19th 2017
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Paula Heron, University of Washington
Subject: Preparing Physics Students for 21st Century Careers: The PHYS21 Report

With support from the NSF IUSE program, the AAPT and APS formed a Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs (JTUPP). The task force reviewed employment data, surveys of employers, and reports generated by other disciplines. We also met with physicists in selected industries to get their views on the strengths and weaknesses of physics graduates, commissioned a series of interviews with recent physics graduates employed in the private sector, and identified exemplary programs that ensure that all of their students are well prepared to pursue a wide range of career paths. The resulting report “PHYS21: Preparing Physics Students for 21st Century Careers” describes the skills and knowledge that undergraduate physics degree holders should possess to be well prepared for a diverse set of careers and makes recommendations intended to help departments and professional associations support student career preparation.

Paula R.L. Heron is a Professor of Physics at the University of Washington. She holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in physics from the University of Ottawa and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Western University. She joined the Physics Department at the University of Washington in 1995. Dr. Heron’s 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. Dr. 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 Executive Committee of the Topical Group on Physics Education Research of the 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. She co-chaired the Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs of the APS and AAPT, which produced the report Phys21: Preparing Physics Students for 21st Century Careers. She also serves as Associate Editor of Physical Review – PER. She was elected Fellow of the APS In 2007 and in 2008 she shared the APS Education award with colleagues Peter Shaffer and Lillian McDermott. Dr. 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.

Faculty Host: Kenneth Heller

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