Physics Education Research Group

We have had an exciting year during 2004 with our faculty members receiving well-deserved national recognition.

Dr. Sanjay Rebello received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at a White House Ceremony in May of this past year.  President Bush named and honored 57 of the nation's most promising young scientists and engineers with the Early Career Awards in 2004.  The award honors and supports the extraordinary achievements of young professionals at the outset of their independent research careers in the fields of science and technology.

Professor Zollman received the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars during a ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences in June of 2004.  As part of this prestigious award, Dr. Zollman received a $300,000 grant for which he will complete a two stage effort involving both research on student learning and development of educational materials.  During the first stage we will conduct research on the reasoning and models that students use as they transfer basic physics knowledge to the application of physics in contemporary medicine.  The results of this research will then be used to develop active engagement teaching-learning materials to help students learn about the applications of 20th and 21st Century physics to contemporary medical diagnosis and procedures.

In the summer 2004 Hewlett Packard awarded Dr. Rebello a Technology for Teaching Grant. The grant provided K-State with 40 HP IPAQ Pocket PCs along with other computer software and hardware to be used in the classroom.  Using a web-based interface the instructor poses questions to students who think, discuss, utilize web-based resources to answer the question, and receive feedback based on their answer.  The system is currently being used in a large enrollment lecture class with over 60 students.  Initial feedback from students indicates that the students like the benefits afforded by the system toward their learning process.

In regard to group members, we have had quite a few changes.  Paula Vetter Engelhardt left KSU for a tenure-track assistant professor position at Tennessee Technological University in Cookville, TN, after a two-year stint as Dr. Rebello’s postdoctoral research associate.  In August, Peter Fletcher joined the group as Dr. Rebello’s new postdoctoral research associate.  Peter received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Sydney.  He had been teaching high school physics in Australia prior to his appointment at KSU.

Peter has spent his first semester here settling in.  He has begun working with graduate and undergraduate students on their research.  He has also assisted in refurbishing the research facility of the group, which now has a new area for conducting clinical and teaching interviews with students.  Peter has helped in the acquisition of new video taping equipment for the research project.  He has also been providing useful input to Sanjay and Dean toward developing the research methodology and theoretical framework for the project.  He will soon embark upon a focused research agenda this coming year under the auspices of the CAREER project with Sanjay, which investigates students’ mental models of real-world devices, transfer of learning and curriculum development.

Kara Gray received her M.S. in Physics under the direction of Dr. Rebello.  She has since gone on to the University of Colorado at Boulder to work on her Ph.D. in physics education under the guidance of Dr. Carl Wieman, Nobel laureate.  The Graduate School has selected Kara Gray’s MS Thesis to represent KSU for the 2005 Distinguished Thesis Award sponsored by the Midwestern Council of Graduate Schools.

Darryl Ozimek received his M.S. in Physics under the direction of Dr. Rebello.  He is now teaching physics at Duquesne University. 

Zdeslav Hrepic received his Ph.D. in Science Education under the guidance of Dr. Zollman.  He accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at Fort Hays State University.

We welcome the following new students to the PER group:  Bijaya Aryal, Ma Aileen Corpuz, Spartak Kalita and Mojgan Matloob.  In addition, Carina Poltera, an undergraduate student has been conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Sanjay Rebello.  Bijaya received his BS in Physics (1992) from Trichandra College and his MS in Physics (1994) from Tribhuvan University.  Aileen received her BS in Physics for Teachers (1991) from Philippine Normal University and her MS in Teaching Physics (1998) at De La Salle University.  Spartak has a MS in Physics from Moscow University (1994).  Mojgan received her B.S. in Physics (1990) from Shahid Beheshti University and her MSc. in Physics Education (2003) from the University of Glasgow.

Additional information about the group is available at