College of Science

Lopez receives AGU's 2016 Richard Carrington Award for his efforts in science education and public outreach

Ramon Lopez, a professor of physics at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been named the winner of the 2016 Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award by the Space and Aeronomy section of the American Geophysical Union.

The AGU’s Carrington Award is presented annually to one honoree “in recognition of significant and outstanding impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of our science through their education and/or outreach activities — exhibiting an effort that goes well beyond their particular job title,” according to the AGU website.

Lopez, whose research includes heliophysics (the science of the Sun-Earth connection through the space environment), space weather and magnetospheric physics, is a longtime advocate of science education and has been involved in K-12 science education at the national level for many years.

“The 2015 Carrington Award winner was a NASA astronaut and scientist [Rick Chappell] well-known for his communication of space science to the public, so I am in very good company with this award,” Lopez said. “It is a real honor to be recognized by the space science community for the education work that I do in the context of my research in heliophysics.”

The citation for the award mentions Lopez’s work with the Next Generation Science Standards; his longstanding efforts to recruit and mentor undergraduates in research, especially women and underrepresented minorities; and his work in teacher preparation, especially as one of the co-directors of UTeach Arlington, UTA’s version of the highly successful secondary science and mathematics teacher preparation program.

“I’m very pleased that the American Geophysical Union has recognized Dr. Lopez’s outstanding work with this national award,” College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “His efforts to improve science education for K-12 students have had a substantial positive impact at local, state and national levels. This is also exemplified in the work he does as a co-leader of our UTeach Arlington program in seeing that our future math and science teachers receive the best possible training. He has also been a tremendous mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students who have spent time in his classroom and laboratory.”

Lopez will receive the award during the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting, to be held December 12-16 in San Francisco. The award is named in honor of Richard Carrington, an English amateur astronomer who, in 1859, was the first person to observe a large solar flare which caused a significant geomagnetic storm that was detected on Earth. This event was the first-ever recorded space weather storm and is referred to as the “Carrington Event.”

Lopez was co-chair of the writing team which drafted the Next Generation Science Standards from 2010-13. The goal of NGSS was to identify core ideas in science across different grades and to provide robust, forward-looking K-12 science standards that all states can use to guide teaching and learning in science for the next decade.

He was also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Undergraduate Science Education from 2002-04, and from 2006-09 he was a member of the writing team for the College Board's first-ever Science Standards for College Success, co-authoring the physical science standards. In addition, He was among a group of experts who served on the Committee for Review of Undergraduate Physics Teaching and Learning for the Republic of South Africa from 2012-15.

He has been instrumental in the success of UTeach Arlington, which started in 2010 and produced its 100th graduate in the Fall 2015 semester. The program recruits outstanding science and
Ramon Lopez is a co-director of the UTeach Arlington program.

mathematics students and provides them with an excellent education as well as with training to receive teacher certification. The program provides early and intensive field experiences for teacher candidates, and the classes are taught by master teachers, who serve as both instructors and mentors.

Additionally, Lopez has served as a consultant for school districts and state education agencies around the country, including the Texas Education Agency. He has served on scientific or education-related committees with the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society (APS), the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and also has served as a member of the board of directors of the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). He is also the author of a popular science book, Storms from the Sun.

“This is a well-deserved award for Dr. Lopez,” said Alexander Weiss, professor and chair of the UTA Department of Physics. “He has worked tirelessly as an advocate for science education and he has had great success in the effort to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the UTA Department of Physics. Ramon’s efforts and accomplishments have brought great honor upon himself, upon UTA and upon our department.”

Lopez earned a Ph.D. in Space Physics from Rice University in 1986. Prior to joining UTA, he worked as a research scientist and administrator at the University of Maryland at College Park, as director of Education and Outreach Programs with the APS, as professor and physics department chair at UT El Paso and as physics professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. In 2007, he came to UTA.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and he also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a worldwide organization and publisher of the journal Science. In 2002 he received the APS Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach, which honors humanitarian service. He received the 2010 SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award, given to members for their dedication to science, education, and mentoring who continue to serve as role models for the next generation of minority scientists. In 2012 he received the APS Edward A. Bouchet Award, which seeks to promote the participation of under-represented minorities in physics by identifying and recognizing a distinguished minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research.

Posted September 1, 2016