Franz Awarded Phillips Medal


College Park, Maryland, United States, November 19, 2007

Judy R. Franz Recognized for Creative Leadership in Physics Education

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) announced today that The Melba Newell Phillips Medal has been awarded to Judy R. Franz, Ph.D., Executive Officer of the American Physical Society (APS), in recognition of her creative leadership and dedicated service  that have resulted in exceptional contributions within AAPT.

The Medal will be presented to Dr. Franz at a Ceremonial Session of the AAPT Winter Meeting at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, on Tuesday, January 22, 2008.

Ken Heller, Chairman, AAPT Awards Committee, said, “Dr. Franz has been an unstinting contributor to all of the functions of the AAPT. Her leadership in the governance and direction of AAPT has had a lasting effect on the organization. She has been especially important in forging a productive relationship between the AAPT and the APS to further the goals of physics education. In her dedication to physics education and the AAPT, Judy Franz exemplifies the deep connection between physics, physicists, and physics education that characterized Melba Phillips.”           

“Judy has served physics education consistently throughout her career, as a professor and as a leader both nationally and around the world. She pursues with vigor and tenacity the goals of promoting effective physics teaching and research, increasing the visibility and impact of physics and physicists within the larger society, and attracting women and minorities to the field. As a colleague, I have developed the highest respect for her dedication and effectiveness,” stated Toufic Hakim, AAPT’s Executive Officer.

Dr. Franz is a condensed matter physicist and educator who has contributed a lifetime of service to the AAPT. She has been influential in guiding the policies and direction of AAPT and served as its President in 1990. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in forging closer relations between AAPT and APS on issues of education. For example, she was the first chair of the joint College – High School Interaction Committee in 1983 and helped organized the first Physics Department Chairs meeting which is still co-sponsored by AAPT and APS. She was a professor of physics at Indiana University, Bloomington, West Virginia University, and the University of Alabama, Huntsville. She is currently the Executive Officer of APS. In her position as Executive Officer, she is actively involved in the education, outreach, diversity, public affairs, and international programs of the APS. 

In addition to her work within AAPT and at APS, Franz is the Secretary General of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), the international organization of physicists with over 50 member countries.

She is currently a member of the Governing Board and Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and is a representative to the US National Committee to UNESCO. In the past, she has served on the AAAS Council, as well as advisory committees for the Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, and NSF.

Dr. Franz received her B.A. degree in physics from Cornell University and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a fellow of APS, AAAS, and the American Association for Women in Science.

Regarding the award, Franz stated, “I was amazed and delighted to learn that I would receive the Melba Phillips Award. I was inspired to major in physics by my introductory physics course at Cornell University taught by then-AAPT-President-to-be Don Holcomb.  Since then I have worked to interest and excite young people about physics. I am grateful to the AAPT for its deep and continuing commitment to promoting excellence in the teaching of our fascinating discipline!” 

About the Award
The Melba Newell Phillips Medal honors Melba Phillips for her leadership and dedicated service to physics education. She was the first woman President of the AAPT and a founder of the Federation of American Scientists. Professor Phillips’ research was in nuclear physics, and she served on the faculty of Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago.  She 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. The first recipient of the Award was Melba Phillips herself (Emeritus, University of Chicago), in January 1982.

The previous award went to Clifford Swartz.  Other recipients include Robert B. Clark, H. Richard Crane, and E. Leonard Jossem.
The complete list of winners can be found at

About AAPT
AAPT is the leading organization for physics educators—with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Our mission is to advance the greater good through physics teaching. We provide our members with many opportunities for professional development, communication, and student enrichment. We serve the larger community through a variety of programs and publications. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

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