A national effort

UW-La Crosse Physics Professor Gubbi SudhakaranUW-La Crosse Physics Professor Gubbi Sudhakaran, an interim associate dean in the university’s College of Science and Health, is part of a national group heading up the five-year Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) effort to create a guide for physics departments to improve teaching and career preparation.

UWL professor working to create guide for physics departments

A UW-La Crosse professor is among an elite nationwide group of collegiate educators creating a guide for physics departments to improve teaching and career preparation.

Gubbi Sudhakaran, an interim associate dean in the UWL College of Science and Health, is part of the group heading up the five-year Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) effort coordinated by the American Physical Society (APS) and American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), with funding from the National Science Foundation. Sudhakaran is joining physicists from industry and universities nationwide, including those from Kettering University, Stanford University, the University of Colorado Boulder, Oregon State University and the University of Texas Arlington.

“UWL has been recognized nationally for building a thriving, undergraduate physics program,” Sudhakaran notes.

Sudhakaran is glad UWL was chosen to be part of this elite group. “UWL has been recognized nationally for building a thriving, undergraduate physics program,” he notes.

The UWL physics program’s national recognition includes being selected for a Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics (SPIN-UP) report in 2002, a Phys21 report on careers in 2016 and the APS Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education in 2013.

The overall guide, set to launch in stages in mid-2019, will provide documented best practices and resources in an easy-to-use format, creating a starting point for faculty and department heads wanting to assess and improve their programs. The guide is expected to include curricula, pedagogy, advising, mentoring, diversity, recruitment and retention, research and internship opportunities, skill development, career prep, resources, staffing and faculty professional development.

Sudhakaran is a member of the EP3 Project and the Best Practices for Undergraduate Physics Programs Task Force. Along with reviewing multiple sections of the guide, he serves as a contributor to the section on undergraduate research, as well as advising and mentoring.

The EP3 guide will include sections of effective practices on all areas of the undergraduate physics degree — recruitment, retention, internships, career preparation and more — along with chapters on leadership, assessment and program review.

“The guide will provide community knowledge that will help faculty members, particularly department chairpersons and other programmatic leaders, tackle common problems and improve the health of physics departments given the unique context of their local environment,” says Sudhakaran.

“The guide will provide community knowledge that will help faculty members, particularly department chairpersons and other programmatic leaders, tackle common problems and improve the health of physics departments given the unique context of their local environment,” says Sudhakaran.

The American Institute of Physics has consistently ranked the UWL Physics Department among the top physics departments in the nation in the highest number of graduating physics majors from a bachelor’s degree-only institution. The department has also received the UW System Board of Regents’ Excellence Award.