From the GPER Chair

By: Leslie Atkins Elliott (GPER Chair)

Greetings from GPER,

At GPER we’ve been undertaking a few initiatives this year aimed at better supporting graduate students and early career scholars, advancing the role and the presence of PER in physics, and improving as a community in areas of equity and inclusion. 

Some highlights of these efforts include: exploring an APS award in physics education research for early career scholars; working with PERLOC and AAPT on a task force related to ethics in education research and our publications; and new small grants available for conference organization efforts - where we have always contributed funds, but now more transparently and equitably.

Information on these and other work is below. As always, if you have ideas, concerns or questions for GPER, please reach out! - Connect via engage, or simply email your officers.

GPER Bylaws Revision and Member Discussion Period

By: Stephanie Chasteen (GPER Secretary/Treasurer)

GPER is in the process of updating its bylaws. We will be discussing bylaws with our members for the next several months, and holding a special election in April. The major changes are to add two members at large with voting rights: An early career member at large, and a graduate student member at large. The new bylaws also formalize the Awards Selection Committee. The current bylaws and proposed changes are on the GPER Bylaws page (proposed changes in right hand sidebar). 

Please join the virtual discussion on the bylaws: January 21st at 4pm ET. Please register if you would like to attend: Register here.

We will also discuss by-laws at our in-person GPER meeting at APS April meeting; TBD.

Welcome to Dr. Chini and Dr. Olmstead!

By: Andrew Heckler (GPER Past Chair and Nominating Committee Chair)

We are pleased to welcome Jacquelyn Chini as the new Vice Chair for GPER, and Alice Olmstead as Member at


Dr. Jacquelyn Chini

Dr. Jacquelyn Chini is Associate Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Central Florida. Herprimary research interest is in inclusion and belonging of disabled physicists/physics learners. 

Dr. Alice Olmstead is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Texas State University. Her primary research expertise is on strategies that can help STEM faculty to improve their teaching and lead to long-term and sustainable change. 

A total of 169 of GPER members voted, or 24% out of 707 members. Thank you to all who voted and to those whoDr. Alice Olmstead agreed to serve as candidates.

The GPER Executive Committee extends many thanks to GPER Past Chair Andrew Heckler, and Member at Large Rachel Henderson, who will both rotate off the GPER Executive Committee this year. Their service is deeply appreciated.

Consider serving on GPER in 2022! Serving on GPER is an opportunity to work closely with colleagues from across the PER community, advance initiatives you are passionate about, support colleagues through awards and funding, and shape the future and health of our community - particularly through our APS conference (APS April meeting) and journal (PR-PER). If you have interest in serving in a leadership role at GPER, please reach out to

Encourage your Graduate Students to Join GPER and PERCoGS!

By: Stephanie Chasteen (GPER Secretary/Treasurer)

GPER has been working hard to boost its membership. A strong GPER membership allows us to promote andsupport PER as a core element of professional physics. Out of 668 GPER members, 22% are graduate students and 7% are undergraduates. The number of student members has been dropping in the past two years. Being a GPER member helps students learn about the professional society, makes them eligible for awards and elected positions, and provides reduced registration fees for APS meetings. Additionally, we found that only 9 (!) of the student members of GPER are also members of the PER Consortium of Graduate Students (PERCoGS). Here is what you can do:
  • Encourage your graduate students to join GPER and/or pay their membership dues.
  • Encourage your undergraduate and graduate students to join PERCoGS.
  • Let us know what GPER can do to provide the most value for your graduate students!

Announcing GPER’s 2021 Fellows: Dr. Catherine Crouch and Dr. Andrew Heckler

By: Jennifer Blue and Mila Kryjevskaia (GPER Vice Chair and Chair Elect)

Each year, the American Physical Society selects a tiny percentage of its members to be Fellows in honor of their amazing contributions to science. The Topical Group on Physics Education Research (GPER) is proud and excited to announce our 2021 APS Fellows, Catherine Hirshfeld Crouch, of Swarthmore College, and Andrew F. Heckler, of the Ohio State University. They have both shown excellent leadership in physics education research and contributed substantially to the field. Their full citations are available here (filter for the year 2021 and the nominating unit of GPER).

Announcing GPER’s 2021 Mini Grant Awardees

By: Alexis Knaub (GPER Member at Large)

One benefit of a GPER member is the opportunity to apply for mini grants. Mini grants provide a small amount of money to support GPER members. The 2020 mini grant cycle extended into January 2021 due to few submissions. Proposals for the 2021 cycle were due 22 October 2021.

The first strand was travel or conference support.  In 2020 this travel strand was Travel Support for Early Career Researchers. This strand supported early career PER scholars in presenting work. Early career was defined as “graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and other early career members such as pre-tenure track faculty, instructors, lecturers, as well as visiting and adjunct teaching faculty. In 2021 this strand was renamed as Conference Support for Physics Education Researchers, with the purpose to provide financial support for costs associated with presenting at a conference; the renaming of this category was to explicitly include the many costs associated with conference presentations beyond travel.

Recipients in 2020 were:

  • Leonardo Colletti, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Linda Strubbe, University of Central Asia
  • Meagan Sundstrom, Cornell University

Recipients for 2021 were:

  • Shane Bergin, University of College Dublin, Ireland
  • Clausell Mathis, University of Washington-Seattle

The second strand, the Personal Mini grants, was new and created as an emergent need for the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This strand was to “support individual members who are facing unanticipated financial challenges (e.g., loss of graduate student support due to budget reductions; lack of affordable childcare due to school closures; bereavement travel expenses).” Two individuals received a personal mini grant in 2020 and no awards were made in 2021. Due to privacy and sensitivity, we are not announcing the  recipients for the personal support strand.

Consider applying for a mini grant in 2022! We anticipate that mini grants for 2022 will be due during fall 2022. Information on the last set of grants and categories is here:

Announcing the New GPER Conference Organizer Grant

By: Alexis Knaub (GPER Member at Large)

During 2021, GPER created the Conference Organizer grant based on feedback from the broader PER community. The purpose of this grant is “to support successful organization of PER-focused conferences, and the development of early-career PER researchers at such conferences.” The GPER Executive Committee envisions recipients of this grant both supporting GPER members and furthering the GPER mission by increasing GPER membership.

Consider applying for conference organizer support in 2022. Recipients can receive up to $700 to support various aspects of conference organizing. Applications were due Nov. 15th, and the recipient(s) will be announced Dec. 15th 2021. Stay tuned for application deadlines for 2022, or contact Alexis Knaub for more information. More information can be found here:

GPER at the 2022 APS April Meeting

By: Mila Kryjevskia (GPER Chair Elect)

This year, the APS April meeting will be held in New York, NY, April 9-12, 2022. 

We are excited to announce that GPER, in collaboration with FEd, is co-organizing two invited sessions.  The first session is titled “Improving Student Reasoning in Physics: What the research says.” Eric Kuo (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), J. Caleb Speirs (University of New England), and Lin Ding (Ohio State University) will present the latest findings related to student reasoning in physics.  Since the development of reasoning and critical thinking skills is possibly the most important outcome of college physics instruction, this session will be of interest to both physics instructors and physics education researchers interested in supporting the development of reasoning in physics. The second session “Active learning in upper-division physics courses” will feature Benjamin Pollard (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Dimitri Dounas-Frazer (Lakeside School, Seattle, Washington), and Laura Rios (California Polytechnic State University).  The session is co-organized with  Charles Ramey (FEd).  We hope to see you in these sessions and welcome your questions and thoughts on these topics.  Currently, the meeting is planned tobe in-person with some remote options.  We encourage you to submit an abstract for a contributed presentation. The deadline is December 20, 2021.  

In addition to the scientific program, APS members are invited to attend many social and networking events.  For example, at a reception organized by the APS Program in Education, we will celebrate new APS Fellowes, Dr. Catherine Crouch and Dr. Andrew Heckler, who were honored with this recognition through GPER.  

We also invite all members to attend the GPER business meeting.  Everyone is welcome! We are looking forward to discussions about how GPER can support its members better. Specific dates and times for these events will be announced at a later date.

At the meeting, we are particularly excited to meet new GPER members and early career folks. (Hint:  Graduate students, we are looking at you.)  Faculty who mentor graduate students and postdocs, please consider encouraging your mentees to join us at the April meeting. 

We are thrilled to see you all in New York.

GPER Budget

By: Stephanie Chasteen (GPER Secretary/Treasurer

GPER income relies primarily on membership dues, plus a small amount of revenue from the APS April meeting and investment income. Our typical annual income is $3500. To create a balanced budget, we have determined a typical annual budget of $700 to Physical Review Physics Education Research (typically helping to defray page charges for those in need), $700 to support PER conference organizers, $1400 to travel grants, $350 to the diversity reception at APS April meeting, and $350 for miscellaneous expenses. We have a projected balance of $8734 at year end (including current liabilities); this surplus will be used to supplement the above base amounts as long as we are able, and enabled us to provide the personal grants strand discussed above. The more members we have, the more we will be able to support activities that support our community — please encourage colleagues to join.

Physical Review Physics Education Research (PRPER) Journal Update

By: Charles Henderson, Editor, Physical Review Physics Education Research

Journal Staff and Editorial Board


  • Charles Henderson, Editor
  • Saalih Allie, Associate Editor
  • Paula Heron, Associate Editor
  • Debbie Brodbar, Journal Manager
  • Maria Poko, Senior Editorial Assistant

Editorial board

  • Term ending 31 Dec 2022
    • Andy Elby
    • Danielle Harlow
    • Maja Planinic
  • Term ending 31 May 2024
    • Zahra Hazari, STEM Transformation Institute, USA
    • Ana Susac, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    • Guangtian Zhu, East China Normal University, China

Welcome to New Associate Editor Saalih Allie

In 2021 we welcomed Saalih Allie to the editorial staff of PRPER. Dr. Allie is a Professor at the University of Cape Town, where he has held joint positions in the Department of Physics and the Academic Development Programme since 1986. He holds a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Cape Town and is presently Co-Director of the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) in South Africa. The spectrum of his activities includes issues of underrepresentation, access and throughput with regard to South African students from socially and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. He has previously been a Mandela Fellow at Harvard, a SHARE Fellow at Penn State University and also represented South Africa on the International Commission on Physics Education (2009-2011).

Submissions and Acceptance Rate 

A record number of 211 articles were submitted to the journal in 2020, and the acceptance rate was 40% (3-year average). The mean time from submission to acceptance for manuscripts submitted in 2020 was 142 days.

Impact Factor

The average impact factor for the last three years is 2.062. This is relatively strong for an education research journal. The 2020 impact factor was 2.412, the highest ever! *Note that the 2017 impact factor is not available due to the journal name change. 

PRPER Coverage in Physics

Seven PRPER articles were covered in Physics, a free, online magazine from the American Physical Society. Physicsreports on papers from the Physical Review journals, focusing on results that will change the course of research, inspire a new way of thinking, or spark curiosity.

  1. February 9, 2021, Physics 14, 22. Coverage of M. Dew, J. Perry, L. Ford, W. Bassichis, and T. Erukhimova “Gendered performance differences in introductory physics: A study from a large land-grant university,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 010106 (2021).
  2. March 8, 2021, Physics 14, 33. Coverage of S. Moshfeghyeganeh and Z. Hazari, “Effect of culture on women physicists’ career choice: A comparison of Muslim majority countries and the West,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 010114 (2021).
  3. March 11, 2021, Physics 14, 37. Coverage of P. Klein , L. Ivanjek, M. N. Dahlkemper, K. Jeličić, M.-A. Geyer, S. Küchemann, and A. Susac, “Studying physics during the COVID-19 pandemic: Student assessments of learning achievement, perceived effectiveness of online recitations, and online laboratories,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 010117 (2021).
  4. April 16, 2021, Physics 14, 59. Coverage of C. Wu and C. Liu, “Eye-movement study of high- and low-prior-knowledge students’ scientific argumentations with multiple representations,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 010125 (2021) and B. Ibrahim and L. Ding, “Sequential and simultaneous synthesis problem solving: A comparison of students’ gaze transitions,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 010126 (2021).
  5. September 7, 2021, Physics 14, s104. Coverage of M. Verostek, C. W. Miller, and B. Zwickl, “Analyzing admissions metrics as predictors of graduate GPA and whether graduate GPA mediates Ph.D. completion,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 020115 (2021).
  6. November 2, 2021, Physics 14, 150. Coverage of H. K. E. Stadermann and M. J. Goedhart, “Why and how teachers use nature of science in teaching quantum physics: Research on the use of an ecological teaching intervention in upper secondary schools,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 17, 020132 (2021).

Focused Collections

Focused collections are a PRPER initiative announced late in 2012. A focused collection is a set of articles on a particular topic of interest to the PER community. All articles are peer reviewed through the normal refereeing procedure. Focused collections serve to consolidate the PER knowledge about a particular topic in a single place, thus making these collections a useful resource for researchers both within PER and outside of PER. One focused collection was published in late 2020 and two new collections were announced in 2021.

Focused Collection 6: Curriculum Development: Theory into Design, with guest editors, Guest Editors: Benedikt Harrer, Eleanor Sayre, and Leslie Atkins Elliott, was published December 2020. The collection received 69 article proposals, which resulted in 22 published articles. 

In August 2021, PRPER announced a call for paper proposals for Focused Collection 7: Qualitative Methods in Physics Education Research (PER), A Critical Examination. 500-word proposals for full papers were due by November 15, 2021 to the guest editors, Alexis Knaub, Katemari Rosa, and Rámon Barthelemy. Completed draft manuscripts will be due by December 3, 2022.

In November 2021, PRPER announced a call for paper proposals for Focused Collection 8: Instructional Labs: Improving Traditions and New Directions. 500-word proposals for full papers are due by February 1, 2022 to the guest editors, Eugenia Etkina, Gorazd Planinsic, and Benjamin Zwickl. Completed draft manuscripts will be due by May 1, 2023.