Timothy Stelzer receives Rose Award for Excellence in Teaching

Siv Schwink

Associate Professor of Physics Timothy Stelzer
Associate Professor of Physics Timothy Stelzer
Timothy Stelzer has received the 2015 Rose Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The award was presented at a College of Engineering faculty awards ceremony on Monday, April 27, 2015.

Stelzer, a high-energy particle theorist who has developed software now in use by particle physicists around the globe, and is a founding member of the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Illinois. Stelzer is a strong proponent of the importance of evidence-based teaching methodologies and the effective use of technology in student learning..

Head of Department and Professor Dale Van Harlingen comments, “There is indeed not an award at any level that includes the words 'teaching excellence' for which Tim should not be a leading candidate--his impact on understanding how students learn physics and how we should teach it has been immense at Illinois and beyond. His creativity, intuition, leadership, and staggering amounts of hard work have resulted in greatly improved student outcomes and instructor satisfaction in the calculus-based introductory physics courses that are taken by every engineering student and many others across campus. I can think of no one more worthy than Tim of receiving the Scott Rose Award."

He is a co-developer of smartPhysics, along with PER colleagues Mats Selen and Gary Gladding. smartPhysics is a web-based learning environment for the first year of introductory calculus-based physics (Physics 211 and Physics 212) that includes animated pre-lectures; lectures with content guided by student assessments, peer instruction, and active learning segments; and an online homework system with interactive tutorials and immediate assessments.

This same PER team also developed a wireless student response system, the i>clicker, now in use by over two million students at more than nine hundred institutions.

More recently, the team has developed IOLab, an inexpensive hand-held wireless device that provides a hands-on laboratory experience. It integrates a large collection of sensors (accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, barometer, thermometer, force probe, light intensity, speaker, microphone, EKG, and more) with an online content delivery system, to enable students to explore many key introductory physics concepts on their own.

Stelzer’s efforts to enrich undergraduate physics education with effective methodologies and tools have been widely recognized. In 2014, Stelzer was elected to the chair line of the American Physical Society (APS) Forum on Education (FEd). He is currently serving as chair-elect in this his second of three term years. He will become chair of the forum in April 2016. Stelzer, along with colleagues Selen and Gladding, was selected for the 2013 Excellence in Education Award by the APS. In 2011, Stelzer received the Arnold Nordsieck Award for Excellence in Teaching from Physics Illinois. In 2009, he was named a Distinguished Teacher-Scholar by the University of Illinois. And in 2005, he received the BP Amoco Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. Stelzer is regularly included on the University's "Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students."

Stelzer received his bachelor's degree in physics from St. John's University in 1988 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. He completed postdoctoral appointments at the Center for Particle Theory at Durham University (UK) and then at the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois. He joined the faculty at Physics Illinois in 1998 as a visiting assistant research professor. He was appointed an assistant research professor in 2000 and associate professor of physics in 2012.


Recent News

  • In the Media

As the chair of the NASA Fundamental Physical Sciences  Review Board, which has oversight responsibility for the recently launched Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), Professor Brian DeMarco plays a seminal role in the "Coolest Experiment in the Universe," taking place on the International Space Station. DeMarco is featured in the video released in conjunction with this press release. The ultra-cold-atom experiment will study a Bose-Einstein condensate in space to uncover a new understanding of its properties and interactions at a temperature barely above absolute zero.

  • Accolades

Professor Peter Abbamonte has been named the Fox Family Professor in Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Named faculty appointments signify a distinction beyond that of professorial rank, recognizing distinguished scholars for their prominence in research, teaching, and service.

  • In the Media

A second solar farm planned in Savoy will put the University of Illinois in the lead among American universities in terms of solar energy, a top campus proponent says.

The campus is moving ahead with a 55-acre solar farm along the north side of Curtis Road, between First and Neil streets in Savoy, about a mile south of the first 21-acre farm on Windsor Road.

Physics Professor Scott Willenbrock, who recently served as a provost's fellow for sustainability, briefed the Academic Senate about the project Monday, saying it will help the campus meet its goal of generating 5 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. That target was part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan, known as iCap.

  • Research
  • Biological Physics

A previously unappreciated interaction in the genome turns out to have possibly been one of the driving forces in the emergence of advanced life, billions of years ago.

This discovery began with a curiosity for retrotransposons, known as “jumping genes,” which are DNA sequences that copy and paste themselves within the genome, multiplying rapidly. Nearly half of the human genome is made up of retrotransposons, but bacteria hardly have them at all.

Nigel Goldenfeld, Swanlund Endowed Chair of Physics and leader of the Biocomplexity research theme at the IGB, and Thomas Kuhlman, a former physics professor at Illinois who is now at University of California, Riverside, wondered why this is.“We thought a really simple thing to try was to just take one (retrotransposon) out of my genome and put it into the bacteria just to see what would happen,” Kuhlman said. “And it turned out to be really quite interesting.”