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Stars - SPS Awards and Accolades

Pitching Physics

On Receiving The 2013 SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award 


Sharon Rosell, Professor of Physics, Central Washington University in Ellensburg

The Central Washington University SPS chapter received a 2013 SPS Marsh W. White outreach award. Members who participated in the project include (l-r) Ryan Corbin, Hans Berghoff, Sharon Rosell, John Pitts, Trevor Taylor, Anthony Douse, Addison Wenger, Jordache Richardson, Andrew Kerr, Richard Grist, and Christopher Pearce. Photo courtesy of Sharon Rosell.

I am very honored to have been selected for the 2013 Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award. But I am only one of hundreds of outstanding advisors across the country—men and women who give of their time to ensure that students have the opportunity to participate in a Society of Physics Students chapter and form friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

SPS President DJ Wagner congratulates Rosell (right) on receiving the highest honor SPS awards to advisors at the 2014 Winter Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Photo by Lydia Quijada.My award is shared with the fine physics program at Central Washington University (CWU), which recognizes the importance of undergraduate research and community outreach. It is a small department that values its students and doesn’t hesitate to ask them for help tutoring general physics courses or finding funding for guest speakers. My award also reflects the fine quality of the many students who have participated in Central’s SPS chapter over the past 20 years. I may suggest field trips or outreach opportunities or ways to raise funds, but I leave it up to the students to decide which activities to do and how to organize their efforts. I let them lead, and they have done a good job. We have received 17 Outstanding Chapter Awards over the years.

I am humbled that my SPS members want this 60-something-year-old lady to attend their meetings and participate in their fun activities. We have gone go-carting and snow sledding and river rafting. I got to pitch during a kickball game with the chemistry club a few years ago. Some time before that, before I had cataract surgery, I was asked to umpire a baseball game. It was a matchup between the rival physics and chemistry students. I could hardly see the ball! Needless to say, SPS won that game.

Our field trip to TRIUMF Labs in British Colombia was particularly memorable. On the way home, the students and I camped on the shores of Puget Sound in Northern Washington. We watched the green flash as the sun set over the waters. Another time, as we were returning from Rosell works with students at an Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science conference intended to nurture girls' interests in these subjects. Photo courtesy of Sharon Rosell.an outreach event for middle school girls in Yakima, Washington, we stopped along the Yakima River Canyon. My students attempted to show me how to skip stones on the river, until one gave up in frustration, telling me that I threw like a girl.

An annual physics workshop that my SPS students do for a local preschool class is one of the most eagerly awaited events of their school year. On Halloween my chapter entertains children with a shadow board or, this year, with a vortex cannon. They hold water rocket launches, and help with a laser light show the physics department puts on for both school children and for the general public. They do “Expanding Your Horizons” workshops for middle school girls. My SPS students make me proud.

Receiving the award is especially poignant for me this year because I plan to retire in June. I hope that my SPS chapter continues to thrive, finding even greater things to do in the future. //

Student Voices

Quotes From The Nominators

“Professor Rosell was a ray of light during my formative years at Central Washington University (CWU). Fortunately, during my second year at CWU, Modern Physics provided a venue for me to get to know Professor Rosell better. Her class built within me a great appreciation of physics and chemistry. It also became apparent that Professor Rosell was a true resource for advice and guidance.”

“I continue to attribute my success to Professor Rosell.”

“Professor Rosell truly cares about her students. She saw beyond my youthful exuberance to my full potential. The advice, counsel, and insight Professor Rosell has shared with me continue to be a source of guidance.”

“Leading by example, Professor Rosell showed students the importance of being involved in the local community. It was amazing to me how Professor Rosell could quickly and efficiently adapt her teaching style, form of presentation, and demonstrations to different audiences, age groups, educational levels, and attention spans. It deeply impressed me how easily she could do this, considering how her audiences varied widely from students new to physics to upper-level undergraduate physics majors to preteens being introduced to the possibilities and excitement of science.”

“She captured my interest in [Modern Physics] as no other professor or class ever did or has since. The postulates of Einstein, the theorizations of Niels Bohr, and the revelations of Max Planck were laid bare for us in an easily accessible way. She didn’t just teach a class. She told a story, a tale of how modern science became what it is today … I changed my major to physics ... and have never regretted it”.

More Information

Sharon Rosell received the 2013 SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award at the 2014 Winter Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Orlando, Florida. This award is the highest recognition given to chapter advisors by SPS. It celebrates an individual who has made exceptional contributions toward promoting student leadership, developing and inspiring a broad spectrum of activities, and inspiring enthusiastic student participation.

To find out more about Rosell and previous recipients of the award, and to learn how to nominate your own advisor, visit: www.spsnational.org/programs/awards/advisor.htm.


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