The American Association of Physics Teachers has recognized Laurie Reed, lecturer of physics at Saginaw Valley State University, for her exceptional commitment to undergraduate teaching.
A long-time member of the association, Reed has been named an AAPT Fellow for 2018. Criteria for selection includes "exceptional contribution to AAPT's mission, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching." She will formally accept the fellowship at the group's 2018 winter meeting in San Diego in January.
Reed takes pride in being honored for teaching a discipline that did not always come easily for her.
"For me in my quest to become an astronomer, physics was a very difficult subject," she said. "During my undergraduate years I had qualified faculty, but they did not always explain the material in ways I could best understand. It was when I was in graduate school for astronomy and I began teaching physics for myself that many of the concepts truly became clearer to me and I realized that I really enjoyed the process of teaching physics to others."
"You can help a student learn a tough concept and to then have that person say, 'I understand that,' is very satisfying to me."
Rarely does Reed have a physics major in her classes. Most of her students are pursuing careers in the health professions and over the years, many have thanked Reed for helping to prepare them to tackle the physics portions of the entrance exams for medical and veterinary schools.
"In my teaching, I try to do a lot of examples and demonstrations that have direct application to everyday life and to the human body," Reed explained. "In class recently I described how the elbow joint rotates and how the bones and muscles respond. I want students to understand that physics affects their lives."
"That's why I'm in this business," Reed said. "I love to teach and my simple goal is to help the students learn physics."
Reed started teaching at SVSU in 1992 and has been a full-time lecturer since 1996. She said SVSU has consistently provided resources and many types of support to help her grow professionally.
The American Association of Physics Teachers has around 8,000 members including university and college faculty and high school teachers, and typically chooses about ten Fellows per year.
"To be named a Fellow of the AAPT is a rare distinction,” Reed said. “I am immensely grateful to my SVSU physics colleagues for nominating me. It's a feather in my cap and a feather in the cap of the university, too. My award is national-level acknowledgement that SVSU has good, dedicated faculty who teach with the best interests of students as the top priority.