UO prof recognized for his physics education research

David Sokoloff with secondary teachers in Indonesia

UO physicist David Sokoloff is now on a list of award winners that includes Carl Sagan, Frank Oppenheimer and Nobel laureates Richard Feynman and Carl Wieman.

Sokoloff, a professor emeritus since 2003 but still actively involved in physics education research, curriculum development and outreach activities, has been named the 2020 winner of the Oersted Medal by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

“This is a huge honor, and I am humbled by the list of Oersted medalists that I now join,” said Sokoloff, a former president of the association. “Like them, I have been motivated by the many university and secondary faculty who have perceived a need to improve the teaching and learning of physics, and the thousands of students who have benefited from these changes.”

The association’s award recognizes Sokoloff for “his outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics through his contributions to the development of active learning strategies and materials to motivate students – especially those using computer-based tools – and his extensive dissemination activities.” He will be formally honored at the association’s meeting Jan. 18-21 in Orlando, Florida.

Sokoloff, who joined the UO in 1978, earned a doctorate in 1972 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He remains active with funding from the National Science Foundation, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, International Centre for Theoretical Physics and SPIE, an international society for optics and photonics.

Since entering emeritus status at the UO, Sokoloff has served as a visiting scholar at Argentina’s National University of San Luis and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. He also held Fulbright senior specialist appointments in Argentina in 2011 and Japan in 2018.

The Oersted Medal, established in 1936, is the fourth award for physics education research that he has received since 2007. Previous medal winners are listed on the American Association of Physics Teachers website.