Plenary Speaker Profile (2003)
Ramon C. Lopez
C. Sharp Cook Distinguished Professor of Physics and Co-Director for Education, Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling
University of Texas at El Paso
Reform in K-12 Science Education and the Implications for Undergraduate Science Teaching

For the past decade or more there have been substantial efforts to significantly improve precollege science education in the US. Concurrently, numerous reports have pointed to the need to improve science education at the undergraduate level. Yet discussions among university faculty about undergraduate science education often occur without any significant consideration of the K-12 reform movement. In this presentation I will outline some salient features of reform in K-12 science education, and their historical background. Many of these features have clear implications for undergraduate science education, as I will point out. As college and university departments begin to change the way that they educate undergraduates, understanding what worked and did not work in K-12 reform can provide valuable information.

Ramon E. Lopez is the C. Sharp Cook Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, and is the Co-Director for Education for the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling (CISM), a Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was awarded the 2002 Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service.

Lopez's current research focuses on magnetospheric storms and substorms, and making detailed quantitative comparisons between the results of global 3-D MHD simulations and observations during actual events. His activities in science education include serving currently as a member the National Research Council's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, and on the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Committee on Education and Human Resources. He chaired the AGU's Space Physics and Aeronomy's (SPA) Education Committee, and was a member of the SPA Public Information Committee. He also serves on the APS Committee on Minorities in Physics and the Executive Committee of the Forum on Education, and on the Board of Directors of SACNAS.

Lopez worked with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland to help implement a hands-on science program in elementary and middle grades. He was Co-PI on a program to organize a series of workshops on science education reform for space scientists, and was the Co-Director of the Electric Space project that produced a major (4000 sq. ft.) travelling museum exhibition about the space environment. As Director of Education and Outreach at the American Physical Society, he was responsible for the Society's education programs, including the Teacher-Scientist Alliance Institute to mobilize scientists in support of systemic reform of science education across the country.

Lopez is the co-author of a recently released popular book on space weather entitled Storms from the Sun, published by Joseph Henry Press, the tradebook arm of the National Academy Press.