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Lillian McDermott

Professor of Physics
Director, Physics Education Group
University of Washington

Lillian McDermottLillian Christie McDermott received her Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from Columbia University in 1959. After teaching at City College of New York, Seattle University, and the University of Washington, she collaborated with Arnold Arons who had come to the University of Washington to establish a program in the Department of Physics for the preparation of precollege teachers. She was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in 1973 and since that time has directed the Physics Education Group, widely known today for its leadership role in physics education research and in the preparation of (K–12) teachers. Prof. McDermott was promoted to Associate Professor in 1976 and to Professor in 1981.

For more than 30 years, Prof. McDermott has worked to establish research in physics education as a field for scholarly inquiry by physicists. Under her leadership, the Physics Education Group conducts research on the learning and teaching of physics and applies the results to the design of curriculum. The group is engaged in developing two sets of research-based instructional materials: Tutorials in Introductory Physics and Physics by Inquiry. Both are nationally distributed. In addition, the group has for more than 30 years conducted an annual Summer Institute for (K-12) In-service Teachers and regularly conducts workshops for university faculty. All of these activities have been furthered by ongoing support from the National Science Foundation. Many physicists from around the world have come to the University of Washington to visit, or to work with, the Physics Education Group.

Prof. Mc Dermott is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the numerous awards she has received are the Robert A. Millikan Lecture Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers (1990), the Archie Mahan Prize of the Optical Society of America (2000), and the Education Research Achievement Award of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2000). In 2001, she was recognized by the AAPT with the Oersted Medal (its highest award) and in 2002, she received the Medal of the International Commission on Physics Education for longstanding contributions to international physics education. Prof. McDermott has been a Councillor of the APS, a member of the APS Executive Board, and a member and chair of several APS, AAPT, and AAAS committees.

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