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Physics Education Research Conference 2024 Plenary Speakers

Catherine H. Crouch, Swarthmore College

Catherine Hirshfeld Crouch is Professor of Physics at Swarthmore College, where she has taught since 2003 and currently serves as Department Chair. Dr. Crouch has been involved in pedagogical reform, physics education research, and reformed curriculum development since her time as a postdoctoral fellow. She has published a dozen peer-reviewed articles evaluating methods and curricula for teaching introductory physics, with a particular focus in the last fifteen years on introductory physics for life science students (IPLS). Her work developing and evaluating introductory physics for life science students has been supported by three National Science Foundation grants (one active, two completed), one of which was the collaborative multi-institution grant for the development of the Living Physics Portal. Her current physics education research project, in collaboration with colleague Benjamin Geller, aims at trying to understand the mechanism by which introductory physics for life sciences courses achieve their outcomes.

Abigail R. Daane, South Seattle College

Dr. Abigail Daane completed a M.S. in physics from Clemson University and taught middle school and high school physics for several years as a Knowles Science Teaching Fellow. She earned her doctorate in science education from Seattle Pacific University and currently teaches physics and social justice classes at South Seattle College. Her research is focused on the experiences of her two year college students, who are deeply involved in the analysis and presentation of the work. She is a co-editor of the Underrepresentation Curriculum, co-facilitates South Seattle College's Faculty Learning Community, co-organizes the FFPERPS conference, and co-leads the OPTYCs DEI Community. She has focused much of her recent time in the classroom working with her colleagues to increase racial and gender equity in physics. When not in the physics classroom, she volunteers as an art docent in elementary schools, teaches ballet, and laughs with her three children.

Jennifer Docktor, University of Minnesota – La Crosse

Jennifer Docktor is a Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. After completing a B.S. in Physics and teacher preparation program at North Dakota State University she earned her M.S. in Experimental High Energy Physics and her Ph.D. in Physics doing Physics Education Research at the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral research with Ken Heller focused on the Development and Validation of a Physics Problem-Solving Assessment Rubric. She spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in Cognitive Science at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign as part of a unique interdisciplinary research group on physics learning and cognition. While there she collaborated with José Mestre on a variety of projects including conceptual problem solving in high school physics, categorization, and using eye-tracking technology to study physics representations. In 2020 they co-authored a book on The Science of Learning Physics: Cognitive Strategies for Improving Instruction. In addition to these endeavors she is involved in several national efforts surrounding physics teacher preparation including the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) and the project Get the Facts Out about STEM Teacher Recruitment. She is currently a physics representative on the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and serves as editor-in-chief for the American Physical Society's Forum on Education newsletter.

Anthony Escuadro, Harold Washington College

Dr. Anthony Escuadro earned his Ph.D in materials science at Northwestern University and began teaching physics and astronomy classes at City Colleges of Chicago – Harold Washington College in 2007. He is completing his term as department chair of the Physical Sciences department at Harold Washington this spring, and is starting his new term as president of the Chicago Section of AAPT this year. He helps coordinate the OPTYCs PER Interest Group and the AIP-SRC Survey, and is involved in the Learning Assistant community as a Learning Assistant Alliance "LAgent" and as the department coordinator of the Physical Science LA Program at Harold Washington. He enjoys playing video games with his son, taking walks with his wife and their new dog, and helping his daughter with her physics homework.

Benjamin D. Geller, Swarthmore College

Ben Geller is Associate Professor of Physics at Swarthmore College. Dr. Geller has developed, taught, and assessed Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (IPLS) curricula for over a decade. He contributed to the design and evaluation of the NEXUS/Physics course at the University of Maryland, and to the dissemination of IPLS curricular materials as a seed contributor to the Living Physics Portal. He is interested in understanding the various engagement pathways by which life science students interact with introductory physics, and in how life science students' attitudes about the relevance of physics to their primary interests evolve over time. To this end, he recently collaborated with Dr. Catherine Crouch and undergraduate researchers to explore the longitudinal effects of the Swarthmore IPLS curriculum on both attitude and skill development. He is currently engaged in a project exploring how the IPLS ecosystem (messaging, pedagogy, curriculum) effectively supports the interdisciplinary longitudinal gains that have been observed at Swarthmore, and in how what is learned in the IPLS environment has broader implications for PER.

Thomas "TJ" Noviello, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Prior to joining Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as a full-time faculty member, TJ was a high school physics teacher for 14 years at Leominster High School in Leominster, Massachusetts, and served as their Science Department Head for several years. Within these roles, TJ taught many courses, including general physics, Honors Physics, all AP Physics courses, and AP Calculus (AB and BC), and created general elective courses that targeted all students, such as planetary astronomy and cosmology. In 2018, the WPI Physics Department brought TJ on board as their PhysTEC Teacher-in-Residence, where in collaboration with the STEM Education Center we have worked towards creating a thriving Teacher Preparation Program. We have also developed a Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) that meets monthly, where teachers (high school, community college, and other 4-year universities) from around Massachusetts join to discuss pedagogy, research, and to share current teaching issues. Since joining WPI as a full-time faculty member, TJ teaches undergraduate physics courses, assists in instructing our pedagogy course for our Peer Learning Assistants, and instructs the teaching methods course for students in the Teacher Preparation Program and those potentially interested in becoming K-12 educators. TJ actively seeks and studies ways to effectively recruit students to the Teacher Preparation Program and to develop opportunities for in-service teachers to engage in professional development. Outside of WPI, TJ enjoys practicing meditation and running.

Sherry Savrda, Organization for Physics at Two-Year Colleges

Dr. Sherry Savrda completed an M.S. in physics at the University of Central Florida. She taught physics for over 30 years, first at Lake-Sumter State College and then at Seminole State College of Florida. While teaching physics, she became interested in how to better support physics students in their journey to learn. This interest led to completing her doctorate in education, with a focus on physics education, with research into the problem solving experiences and struggles of introductory physics students. She is currently serving as a co-PI of the OPTYCs project, and has previously served as co-PI of the Introductory College Physics for the Twenty-First Century (ICP-21) and Collaborative Research: Strengthening the Foundation of STEM Education for Community College Students projects. When not busy with the OPTYCs work of supporting two-year college physics faculty and students, you can find Dr. Savrda wandering the trails of the Appalachians, gardening, crocheting/knitting, or gaming with her husband.