Beth Cunningham

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Beth CunninghamBeth joined the American Association of Physics Teachers as the Executive Officer on January 1, 2011. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Arts degree, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Kent State University. After receiving her doctorate, Beth was a post doctoral fellow at the Hormel Institute at the University of Minnesota and she taught for one year in the physics department at Gettysburg College immediately following her post doctoral fellowship. In 1989 she joined the physics department at Bucknell University as an assistant professor and progressed through faculty ranks to full professor in 2002. In 2000 she was named associate dean of the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. She developed and administered the Bucknell Physics Department Summer Undergraduate Research Program and this program received funding from the National Science Foundation for over 12 years. In 2006, she was appointed as Provost, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Physics at Illinois Wesleyan University.

At Illinois Wesleyan University, Beth initiated a strategic curricular review to enhancing academic programs and external reviews of academic departments. She also developed a child bearing and childrearing policy for faculty and staff. At AAPT, Beth is providing leadership on a number of physics education initiatives including the collaboration with the American Physical Society on the PhysTEC project, a major initiative to increase the number and quality of high school physics teachers, the development of a e-Mentoring program for new high school physics teachers, the PTRA program, and a new program on “Mobilizing Disciplinary Societies on Behalf of our Students … and our Planet” with Project Kaleidoscope.

Beth has been active in educational and professional organizations at the national level such as chairing the Committee on Education for the American Physical Society in 2004. She has also taught a variety of courses, including seminars for first year students and advanced physics courses. She was co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant recently awarded to Project Kaleidoscope to prepare faculty leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She continues to serve as a Councilor in the Physics and Astronomy Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Beth’s research interests include the structure and function of phospholipid membranes and physics education research.