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Physics Education Research Conference 2016 Plenary Speakers

Saalih Allie, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Saalih Allie is Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town, where he has held joint positions in the Department of Physics and in the Academic Development Programme since 1986. The broad spectrum of his activities, across the College of Science, includes issues of underrepresentation, access and throughput with regard to South African students from socially and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. His teaching in the Physics Department has been directed primarily at such "non-traditional" students. More recently, as part of an equity initiative, he established, and directs, a postgraduate bridging program for Black physics B.S. graduates from across South Africa who wish to pursue studies in Astronomy and Space Science. He holds a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from UCT, but his main focus of research has been in PER, in particular with regard to the following areas: laboratory work and the teaching of measurement and uncertainty, writing in physics, and the role of context, language and socio-emotional factors with regard to "backstage cognition". He worked with the PER group at the University of Maryland during an extended sabbatical (2004-06) and was a Harvard-Mandela Fellow in 2000. He represented South Africa on the International Commission on Physics Education (2009-2011), and is presently a member of the editorial board of PRPER.

Saalih Allie PERC 2016 Talk

George M. Bodner, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University

George Bodner was born (3/8/46) and raised within a half-mile of Kodak Park in Rochester, New York. In spite of this, he entered the State University of New York at Buffalo as a history-philosophy major. At SUNY he found, much to his amazement, that chemistry was fun and he changed his major (under the mistaken impression that jobs were easier to find as a chemist).

After a mediocre career as an undergraduate (B.S., 1969) he entered graduate school at Indiana University (Ph.D., 1972), undoubtedly on the basis of letters of recommendation. He apparently did well enough in graduate school as a double major in inorganic and organic chemistry to gain an appointment as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois (1972-75). His research interests at that time focused on the application of C-13 NMR spectroscopy to studies of the structure and bonding in organometallic complexes.

While at Illinois he made the mistake of professing total ignorance of biochemistry to one of his colleagues in that area. After a semester of intense study to relieve this obvious deficiency, he was asked to fill an appointment as a visiting professor in biochemistry for the summer of 1974. Having survived that, he was actually invited back for the summers of 1975 and 1976.

Two things became self-evident during his tenure at Illinois. He found that teaching was fun and he realized that his research could best be described as searching for definitive answers to questions that no one ever asked. When the time came to leave Illinois, he therefore took a job as two-thirds of the chemistry faculty at Stephens College - a women's college in Columbia, MO - where he lasted for two years (1975-1977), teaching general, organic, inorganic, and biochemistry.

In 1977, an opening in Chemical Education was advertised at Purdue University. He applied for the position and, much to their later chagrin, the faculty at that institution offered him the job. (They have since compounded their error by promoting him first to associate professor and then professor of chemistry and education.) He is the author of more than 80 papers and 30 books or laboratory manuals. He has been known to claim in public that his primary interest is in epistemology. His interests also include the development of materials to assist undergraduate instruction, research on how students learn, and the history and philosophy of science.

George Bodner PERC 2016 Talk

Jesper Bruun, University of Copenhagen

Jesper Bruun is adjunkt (roughly equivalent to US assistant professor) at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where he completed his Bachelor and Master degrees in physics. His Master thesis was on the interplay between kinesthetic learning activities (KLAs) and computer simulations. For his PhD, also at University of Copenhagen, which specialized in PER, Jesper investigated the use of network analysis in physics education at upper secondary and university levels. Here, he worked on refining mixed methods approaches that integrate learning theories with network analysis. Jesper is currently continuing these lines of research at the Department of Science Education, where he is now involved in a diverse set of PER projects.

Jesper Bruun PERC 2016 Talk

Kerrie A. Douglas, Purdue University

Dr. Kerrie A. Douglas is Visiting Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Douglas earned her PhD in Educational Psychology and studies methods of evaluation and assessment in STEM disciplines. Her areas of interest include assessment of engineering design competencies, what types of evidence constitute use for educational decision-making, and how multiple forms of data provide deeper levels to understand learning. She currently leads a research team to combine multiple forms of data (machine-generated and traditional assessment methods) to understand learners in highly technical nanotechnology-related open online online courses.

Kerrie A. Douglas PERC 2016 Talk

Peter W. Hewson, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Emeritus

Peter W. Hewson is Professor Emeritus of Science Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he taught in the undergraduate science teacher education and graduate science education programs. A major focus of his scholarship was a conceptual change framework that informs the teaching and learning of science, science teacher education and teacher professional development. He played a major role in a dialogue between researchers in southern Africa and the United States. This led to the establishment of an annual Research School in southern Africa with particular emphasis on the professional development of new researchers in science and mathematics education. In 2009 he received the Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Peter Hewson received his D.Phil. in theoretical nuclear physics from Oxford University, and taught physics and science education at the University of the Witwatersrand before moving to the United States. Today he remains one of the most influential founding members of the PER community in southern Africa.

Peter Hewson PERC 2016 Talk