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Lopez named Fellow by association of physics teachers

Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez

A professor of physics at The University of Texas at Arlington has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to physics education with a Fellowship from the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Ramon Lopez, a longtime leader in physics and science education, has been named one of eight Fellows for 2017 by the AAPT. The criterion for selection of Fellows is exceptional contribution to AAPT's mission — to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. Nominations are evaluated by the AAPT awards committee and approved by the organization’s board of directors.

“Being elected a Fellow of the AAPT is a great honor, and it is a recognition of the work I have done in physics education and my standing in the physics education community,” said Lopez, whose research includes heliophysics, or the science of the Sun-Earth connection through the space environment, space weather and magnetospheric physics.

The AAPT fellowship is the latest of numerous accolades recognizing Lopez’s longtime advocacy for science education and his excellence in teaching and mentoring students. Last August, the Space and Aeronomy section of the American Geophysical Union presented Lopez with the 2016 Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award, which recognizes honorees for their significant and outstanding impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of science through their education and/or outreach activities.

The AAPT is the third scientific professional society to elect Lopez a Fellow, following the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“This fellowship is a wonderful recognition of the significant impact Dr. Lopez has made in physics and science education,” College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “In addition to being a renowned physicist who has made critical contributions to the field of space physics, Dr. Lopez has spent his career working to improve physics and science education and to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in science and the science, technology, engineering, mathematics fields.”

Lopez was co-chair of the writing team which drafted the Next Generation Science Standards from 2010-13. The goal of the team 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 has produced more than 120 graduates. The program recruits outstanding science and 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 National Academy of Sciences, APS, AGU, and AAAS, 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. In addition, he is the author of a popular science book, Storms from the Sun.

Lopez earned a doctorate. 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.

In April, Lopez received the UTA Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring for 2016-17. He was the 2012 recipient of 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. He was awarded the SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award in 2010, 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 2002 Lopez received the APS Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach, which honors humanitarian service.

AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists, and industrial scientists — with members worldwide. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching, AAPT provides awards, publications, and programs that encourage teaching practical application of physics principles, support continuing professional development, and reward excellence in physics education. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

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