University of Rochester

Physicist Receives National Award in Undergraduate Teaching

April 4, 2007

Steven L. Manly, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, has been selected to receive the 2007 American Association for Physics Teachers (AAPT) Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The award will be presented this summer at the AAPT meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

This is the latest of several recognitions of Manly's teaching efforts. In 2003, he was named New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Nearly 400 of the best college professors from across the country competed for the title in their home states.

"The physics community, both locally and nationally, is populated with many talented and innovative teachers who are doing great things," Manly said. "So, this award, springing from that community, is a great honor to me. It's even sweeter that I get rewarded for doing something that I enjoy."

Arie Bodek, George E. Pake Professor of Physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said Manly has gone beyond just being an excellent teacher. Manly has recognized that traditionally physics majors learn physics by doing homework in small groups, while non-majors tend to work alone. He was the first to implement workshops, which were initially used in the Department of Chemistry. These peer-led workshops have turned out to be an ideal way to foster effective group learning practices in the introductory physics courses for majors and non-majors.

"Steve is one of our most popular professors," Bodek said. "The AAPT award is well deserved and proves that we are fortunate to have such an engaging and effective professor in our department."

Bodek adds: 'It is a pleasure to read student comments about his courses such as, Professor Manly was the best teacher I have had at this University. He genuinely loved the subject material, was entertaining, clear, and always helpful. It was a wonderful class.'

Manly received his bachelor's degree in chemistry, mathematics, and physics from Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, N.C., in 1982, and received his doctorate in experimental high-energy physics from Columbia University in 1989. He then joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor before arriving to teach and carry out high-energy particle research at the University of Rochester in 1998.

Manly's research interests are primarily aimed at understanding the nature of matter and forces. He works in the areas of high energy and nuclear physics, performing experiments on particle accelerators at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.