Plenary Speaker Profile (2008)
James H. Stith
Vice President, Physics Resources Center, American Insitute of Physics
American Insitute of Physics
Changing the Face of Science

A recent American Institute of Physics study revealed that the number of students taking physics at the high school level has reached a record 1.1 million per year. This study also shows that the also half of these students are young women. Additionally, the percentage of students in all racial groups taking physics has seen remarkable increases. For example, the African American numbers rose from 10% in 1990 to 24% in 2005. In spite of this seemingly good new, the number and percentage of women and underrepresented minorities earning bachelor degrees in physics remains unacceptably low. Why is this? This talk will focus on possible reasons and suggest approaches that may be used by practicing teachers and administrators to improve the yield.

James H. Stith is the Vice President, Physics Resources Center for the American Institute of Physics. He directs a broad portfolio of programs and services that includes AIP's Magazine Division, the Media and Government Relations Division, the Education Division, the Center for the History of Physics, the Statistical Research Division and the Career Network. He was formerly a Professor of Physics at The Ohio State University and also spent 21 years on the faculty of the United States Military Academy at West Point. His Doctorate in physics was earned from The Pennsylvania State University, and his Masters and Bachelors in physics were received from Virginia State University.

In 2004, Dr. Stith was named one of "50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science" by the magazines Science Spectrum and US Black Engineer & Information Technology. Additionally, he serves on a number of national and international Advisory Boards and has been awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by his alma mater, Virginia State University. In October 2005, he was named an Alumni Fellow, the highest honor given by the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association.

A physics education researcher, his primary interests are in Program Evaluation, and Teacher Preparation and Enhancement. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for programs that ensure ethnic and gender diversity in the sciences.