From the Chair

By: Andrew Heckler (GPER Chair)

Hello to all, and I hope you are managing to be well in these times. As you will see in the rest of this newsletter, the GPER community remains very active, and I would like to encourage you to reach out to other colleagues in the Physics Education Research community- such connections can be helpful for us all. 

To acknowledge current challenges many are facing, we have created a special strand for Personal Mini-Grants that may help. I  would also like to remind you that one way to stay connected is to participate in the April APS meeting: abstracts submissions are open and due on January 8!  

I would also like to let you know of the new APS unit website for GPER that has useful GPER information and news. Check it out at

Finally, stay in touch! If you have any comments, questions, ideas or want to get involved, please drop me or anyone on the executive committee a line-- we would love to hear from you. You can reach me at

GPER 2020 Election Results

By: Paula Heron (GPER Past Chair)

We are pleased to announce the results of the 2020 election to the GPER Executive Committee.

The new Vice-Chair is Jennifer Blue.  Jennifer is a Professor of Physics at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. She has been working on issues of inclusion in physics since starting a Women in Math and Science group in college more than 30 years ago. She earned an MS in physics and a PhD in science education at the University of Minnesota, with Ken and Pat Heller. Since then, she has been teaching: first at Saint Mary’s School, a girls’ boarding school in Raleigh, then at the University of Maine at Farmington, and since 2002, at Miami. Her goal this whole time has been to help more students get into physics. She teaches physics and astronomy courses to non-majors, making the content as accessible as possible, and also teaches pedagogy classes, both to teaching assistants in physics and also to students working towards our graduate certificate in college teaching. She spearheaded the conversion to SCALE-UP in her department. Jennifer’ external funding has been for working with in-service teachers, working with preservice teachers through the Noyce program, helping traditionally excluded students prepare for graduate school through the REU program, and trying to help students succeed in our introductory class. She has given invited talks and published on gender in physics since the mid-90s.

The new Member-at-Large is Alexis V. Knaub.  Alexis earned a bachelor’s in physics (Smith College), master’s in physics (DePaul University, and a doctorate in science education, specializing in physics education (Boston University). She was a postdoc at Western Michigan University and currently works as a consultant, external evaluator, and project manager. As a researcher and external evaluator, she has worked on a variety of projects in postsecondary STEM education. Much of this work focuses on sustainability and propagation of projects, sustained change, and equity, diversity, & inclusion. She is the vice chair of the AAPT Committee on Diversity in Physics and a member of the APS Committee on Membership. Alexis has also co-guest-edited a Physical Review Physics Education Research (PRPER) Focused Collection on Quantitative Methods.

Of the 563 current GPER members, 154 (27%) voted in the election. Congratulations to these well-deserving candidates and a thank you to all who participated!

With the addition of Jennifer and Alexis, the elected members of the 2021 Executive Committee will be:

Past-Chair: Andrew Heckler, Ohio State Univ - Columbus

Chair: Leslie Atkins Elliott, Boise State University

Chair-Elect: Lioudmila Kryjevskaia, North Dakota State University

Vice-Chair: Jennifer Blue, Miami University of Ohio

Secretary/Treasurer: Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado, Boulder

Member-at-Large: Rachel Henderson, Michigan State University

Member-at-Large: Alexis Knaub, American Association of Physics Teachers

Announcing GPER’s 2020 Fellow: Dr. Zahra Hazari

By: Mila Kryjevskaia (GPER Vice Chair)

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Zahra Hazari was recognized as a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Dr. Hazari was nominated by GPER for her excellent contributions to Physics Education Research.

Dr.  Hazari is a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning and the STEM Transformation Institute as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Physics at Florida International University. Dr. Hazari has made groundbreaking contributions to physics education research (and STEM education research, in general) through her work on reforming learning environments in order to increase the participation of under-represented groups, especially women. Her work on identity development resulted in critical insights into understanding how to inspire students to pursue studies in physics. In one of the nomination letters for the APS fellowship, Dr. Hazari's research was recognized as "one of the factors that set the stage for a major transformation in the landscape of PER. If PER cares so deeply and broadly about equity, diversity, and inclusion today, we have trailblazers such as Dr. Hazari to thank." Her research findings have been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Washington Monthly, Science Magazine, Scientific American, LiveScience, Science for the People, and APS News. In addition, Dr. Hazari is one of the leaders involved in developing the STEP UP project (supported by APS) aimed to provide high school physics teachers with resources to reduce barriers and inspire young women to major in physics.  

Dr. Hazari’s Fellowship citation sums up her work:  “For foundational research on identity development in the shaping of future physicists, and for supporting women in physics and promoting, through research and service, the importance of high school teachers for shaping the physics community.”

We warmly congratulate Dr. Hazari on her achievements and well-deserved recognition as a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

APS GPER Call for Mini-Grant Proposals: Early Career and Personal Support

By: Rachel Henderson (GPER Member-at-Large)

The American Physical Society Physics Education Research Topical Group (GPER) is committed to supporting APS members who advance and enrich research in physics education. Historically, the GPER Mini Grants have provided travel support for early career researchers. This year we’ve created a special second strand for personal support regardless of career stage, in response to the multiple crises that present numerous personal, professional, and educational challenges.

Application Deadline: January 4th, 2021

For more information on how to apply, please visit

Strand 1 - Travel Support for Early Career Researchers

This strand supports the proposer’s conference costs for the 2021 APS April Meeting to present PER work. Partial support is more likely than full support. Although the APS April Meeting will be held virtually, the funding from this strand could be used toward other conference costs such as registration, childcare, etc. Grants are capped at $700 in this strand. Preference is given to early career members of the AAPT and APS community including senior and recent 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. Researchers presenting a PER talk who have not previously presented in a PER session at an APS meeting will be given priority. Proposals are limited to one page and must state whether the presentation is invited or contributed

Total funding available: $1,400. Average award: $700

If you have any questions regarding the travel mini-grants, please contact Rachel Henderson at

Strand 2 - Personal Mini-grants

This strand is designed 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). Personal mini-grants have a maximum of $1,000 per award.

Total funding available: $5,000. Average award: $750- $1,000

If you have any questions regarding the personal mini-grants, please contact Leslie Atkins Elliott at

GPER Budget

By: Stephanie Chasteen (GPER Secretary/Treasurer)

Typical budget. 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 conferences (such as FFPER and FFPERPS), $1400 to travel grants, $350 to the diversity reception at APS April meeting, and $350 for miscellaneous expenses. The more members we have, the more we will be able to support activities that support our community -- please encourage colleagues to join.

The 2020 budget. For 2020 to date, our revenue is $3130.00 due to the cancellation of the APS April meeting and thus reduction of our income stream. We have made no expenditures in this calendar year but anticipate allocating $1000 to Physical Review Physics Education Research, $1400 for travel support for early career researchers (our typical mini-grant program), and $5000 for personal mini-grants given the current national crises.

Additional funding.Since 2015, GPER income has exceeded its expenses, leaving the unit with an excess of $9203.38. We have decided to preserve $1500 in the account as a buffer, leaving approximately $7700 available for other expenditures. This excess will be used to fund the $5000 personal mini-grants. It will also be used to increase two budget expenses back to historic levels from the budgeted amount: We will increase travel awards from $1400 to $2000 for 2021 and 2022, and increase allocations to PRPER from the budgeted $700 to $1000 for 2020 and 2021. The remaining $700 will be allocated in 2021 to support FFPER/FFPERPS depending on the opportunity for in-person conferences.

Physical Review Physics Education Research (PRPER) Journal Update

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


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


  • Term ending 31 May 2021
    • Jenaro Guisasola
    • Mackenzie Stetzer
    • Ping Zhang
  • Term ending 31 Dec 2022
    • Andy Elby
    • Danielle Harlow
    • Maja Planinic


On November 18, 2020, Michael Thoennessen, Editor in Chief of Physical Review journals, published an editorial in all of the Physical Review journals on the importance of physics journals being welcoming and inclusive. Concrete steps towards being more welcoming and inclusive include:

  1. Providing authors the opportunity to list their pronouns together with their email address in published articles.
  2. Instructing authors, referees, and copy editors to use gender-neutral language.

Thoennessen, M. (2020). Promoting Inclusive and Respectful Communications. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16, 020001. <>


Three 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. April 21, 2020, Mentorship is Critical to Success, Physics 13, s53. <>. Coverage of Barthelemy, R. S., McCormick, M., Henderson, C. R., & Knaub, A. (2020). Educational supports and career goals of five women in a graduate astronomy program. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(1), 010119.
  2. October 14, 2020, YouTube: Physics Friend Not Foe, Physics 13, s131. <>. Coverage of Ruggieri, C. (2020). Students’ use and perception of textbooks and online resources in introductory physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(2), 020123.
  3. October 29, 2020, Hands-On Lab Skills Key for Quantum Jobs, Physics 13, 163. <> Coverage of Fox, M. F., Zwickl, B. M., & Lewandowski, H. J. (2020). Preparing for the quantum revolution: What is the role of higher education?. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(2), 020131.


One PRPER article was covered in Physics Today, the flagship publication of the American Institute of Physics, and the most influential and closely followed physics magazine in the world.

  1. August 26, 2020, Skewed student demographics distort physics education studies. <> Coverage of Kanim, S., & Cid, X. C. (2020). Demographics of physics education research. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(2), 020106.


Average impact factor of 1.63. This is relatively strong for an education research journal. 2019 impact factor was 1.811. *Note that the 2017 impact factor is not available due to the journal name change. 


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 active in 2020.

Focused Collection 6: Curriculum Design

Now published at

69 proposals

25 encouraged to
submit full article

23 articles

22 articles

GPER at the 2021 APS April Meeting

By: Leslie Atkins-Elliott (GPER Chair Elect)

The 2021 APS April meeting Quarks to Cosmos: Advancing Science in a Global and Inclusive Community, will be held virtually, April 17-20. GPER, together with a range of other groups and forums, have focused our sessions primarily on two areas: issues of equity and inclusion, and online instruction. In particular, GPER is sponsoring (the Forum on Education, FEd is co-sponsoring) an invited speaker series, “Teaching Physics Online,” with talks oriented towards both research and instruction. There will also be sessions of broad interest to PER, including: Practices for Inclusive Physics Education, Achieving Laboratory Learning Goals through Remote Lab Instruction, Computation in Physics Education, Recruiting Precollege Students in the Era of COVID, and Deconstructing Racism in Physics.  The meeting will also include contributed sessions in GPER and we encourage you to submit an abstract! The deadline for abstract submission is January 8, 2021.