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The Melba Newell Phillips Medal honors Phillips for her leadership and dedicated service to physics education.
The first woman president of the AAPT and a founder of the Federation of American Scientists, Phillips’ research
was in nuclear physics. She served on the faculty of Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago and was a
champion of physics education throughout her life. This Award is given only occasionally to subsequent AAPT
leaders who display similar achievements and exceptional contributions.
Harvey Gould
Clark University
Research Professor of
Worcester, MA
The Robert A. Millikan Medal for 2013 is presented to
Harvey Gould
for his notable and creative contributions to the
teaching of physics. Gould has been a pioneer in computational and statistical physics education. Throughout his ca-
reer, he has worked to develop collaboration and communication among his colleagues while supporting the common
good, making unique and important contributions to the community of physicists and physics educators.
He earned his AB and PhD in physics at the University of California, Berkeley and did postdoctoral work at the
National Bureau of Standards (now NIST). After four years at the University of Michigan, he began teaching at Clark
University, Worcester, MA, in 1971. In the early 1980s he made important contributions in the development of com-
puter simulations for undergraduate physics lecture and laboratory courses, and, in particular, developed a laboratory-
based course on computer simulation at the undergraduate and graduate levels. For the last three decades he has done
research in condensed matter physics, statistical physics, and computational physics. Most recently his research has
focused on the dynamics of first-order phase transitions with a particular interest in nucleation, as well as critical slow-
ing down and earthquake fault systems.
Gould has shared his knowledge of the use of computers and computer simulations in physics education. In the ‘90s
he participated in the Consortium for Upper-level Physics Software (CUPS) Project, which led to the publication of
Thermal and Statistical Physics Simulations,
coauthored with Lynna Spornick and Jan Tobochnik. Of particular note
are his undergraduate textbooks,
Introduction to Computer Simulations Methods
, coauthored with Wolfgang Christian
and Jan Tobochnik, and
Statistical and Thermal Physics
, coauthored with Tobochnik. As co-editor with Jan Tobochnik
of the Computer Simulation column in Computers in Physics and Computing in Science and Engineering for over 10
years, Gould has had a positive impact on many physics teachers. As Associate Editor of the
American Journal of Phys-
for 10 years, he edited approximately 1000 articles and played an active and effective role in improving manuscripts
to make them more accurate, readable, and understandable.
The first Gordon Research Conference on Physics Research and Education, which brings together research scientists,
faculty, physics education researchers, and students around a specific topic, was initiated and co-chaired by Gould and
Tobochnik. These conferences were followed by the 1999 launch of theme issues of
American Journal of Physics
that are
tied to the Gordon Conferences.
The Robert A Millikan Medal, established in 1962, recognizes teachers who have made notable and creative
contributions to the teaching of physics. The recipient is asked to make a presentation at the Ceremonial Session
of an AAPT Summer Meeting. A monetary award, The Millikan Medal, an Award Certificate, and travel expenses to
the meeting are presented to the recipient.
Robert A. Millikan Medal
New Challenges for Old
Physics Departments
Monday, July 15
6:10–7:10 p.m.
Grand Ballroom I
Melba Newell Phillips Medal
The Melba Newell Phillips Medal for 2013 is presented to
Lillian Christie McDermott,
PhD, Professor of Physics at
the University of Washington, in recognition of her creative leadership and dedicated service that have resulted in
exceptional contributions within AAPT.
A long-time AAPT member, McDermott’s foundational work in physics education research has strengthened the
association’s programs and benefited the overall physics education community. Her service began with a commit-
ment to improve physics education for future elementary school teachers and later included high school teachers as
well. The establishment and growth of the University of Washington Physics Education Group, the longest-lived U.S.
teacher education program based in a university physics department, is just one of the many significant achievements
resulting from her commitment to physics education. Her graduate students have gone on to prominence in AAPT
and in faculty positions across the country.
On being recognized with this award, Lillian McDermott said: “I am greatly honored to have my name become as-
sociated with Melba Phillips in this way. She was a great role model for women in physics. I first met her at an AAPT
meeting many years ago. I was impressed then and still am by her accomplishments in research and teaching, her po-
litical courage, and her service to the physics academic community. On a more personal level, although I barely knew
her, I remember that she did not appear to be too busy to spend a few moments talking to a new member of AAPT.”
McDermott received her PhD in experimental nuclear physics from Columbia University in 1959. After teaching at
City College of New York, Seattle University, and the University of Washington, she collaborated with Arnold Arons
who had come to the University of Washington to establish a program in the Department of Physics for the prepara-
tion of pre-college teachers. Her systematic research on learning difficulties was the genesis of a new field of scholarly
inquiry for physicists: Physics Education Research (PER). Under McDermott’s guidance, the University of Washing-
ton Physics Education Group has served as a model for discipline-specific educational research and curriculum devel-
opment, and produced numerous trail-blazing articles. Similar physics education research PhD programs have been
set up at several other universities in the U.S. The UW Physics Education Group has developed two widely distributed
sets of instructional materials, “Physics by Inquiry” and “Tutorials in Introductory Physics.”
As the first chairperson of the AAPT’s Research in Physics Education Committee, McDermott organized the first
invited session at AAPT on PER in the early 1980s, and over the years has planned many high-quality and very well
received invited sessions.
Lillian C. McDermott
University of Washington
Professor of Physics
Seattle, WA
DBER – A View from
Wednesday, July 17
10–11 a.m.
Grand Ballroom I
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