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Karl C. Mamola to Receive 2015 Oersted Medal

Sept. 19, 2014. Retired Appalachian State University professor Karl C. Mamola has been named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The medal will be awarded at a ceremonial session of the 2015 AAPT Winter Meeting in January in San Diego in recognition of his significant contributions to physics education through his roles as editor of The Physics Teacher and as mentor for students, prospective authors, column editors, reviewers and others.

karl_mamolaThe Oersted Medal recognizes those who have had an outstanding, widespread and lasting impact on the teaching of physics.

Mamola was awarded faculty emeritus status by the university’s Board of Trustees in March after 41 years teaching at Appalachian.

“For nearly 50 years AAPT has played a critical role in my professional life,” Mamola said. “I am grateful to everyone in the physics teaching community who has supported, inspired and befriended me throughout the years. I’m delighted and honored to have been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Oersted Medal,” he said.

Mamola earned a B.S. in physics in 1963 at Stony Brook University, a M.S. in physics in 1965 at Florida State University and a Ph.D. in physics in 1973 at Dartmouth College.

In 1963, Mamola began his academic career first as an instructor of physics at Appalachian. His responsibilities grew as he was promoted to assistant professor, associate professor, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1977 and professor in 1978. He served as department chair for 21 years. During his tenure at Appalachian, Mamola received many teaching and service awards.

Mamola has touched a multitude of lives throughout his career as a physics teacher, prolific author, presenter at national and local meetings, editor of the “Apparatus for Teaching Physics” column in The Physics Teacher, and editor of The Physics Teacher, AAPT’s signature publication.

He consistently produced an extraordinary publication with content accessible to and used by physics teachers at all levels.

He has served AAPT at the section and national levels. As an active member of the executive board, he supported the national officers and took an active role in working on association initiatives. He gave freely of his time, using his leadership and writing skills in service to the physics teaching community.

Mamola’s involvement in AAPT in a range of capacities has made it a better organization and its members more effective educators. His contributions to physics and physics teaching continue to have an outstanding and widespread impact on the teaching of physics.

About the award
The Oersted Medal is named for Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), a Danish physicist who, in the course of creating a teaching demonstration, discovered that electric currents cause a magnetic field. This was a crucial step in establishing the theory of electromagnetism so important in building modern technology and modern physics.

The award was established by AAPT in 1936 and is given annually to a person who has had outstanding, widespread and lasting impact on the teaching of physics.

Previous Oersted award winners include Nobel Laureates such as Richard Feynman, Hans Bethe and Robert Millikan, as well as renowned physicists Carl Sagan, Freeman Dyson and Phillip Morrison. The complete list of recipients can be found at http://www.aapt.org/Programs/awards/oersted.cfm.

About AAPT
AAPT is the premier professional society established to advance the greater good through physics education. With the support of members worldwide, AAPT is an action oriented organization designed to develop, improve and promote best practices for physics education as part of the global need for qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers who will inspire tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers.

AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.