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Earl Blodgett named 2014 Distinguished Teacher at UW-RF

Physics Professor Earl Blodgett has been named the 2014 Distinguished Teacher at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. This award, the highest honor that a faculty member can receive from the university, recognizes excellence in both teaching and mentoring students.

Blodgett, who lives on the same farm he grew up on east of Boyceville, will deliver the commencement address at the fall 2014 ceremony in December. He is a 1980 graduate of UW-River Falls as is his wife. His mother and his three children are also UWRF graduates.

After completing his bachelor of science in physics and mathematics at UWRF, Blodgett studied at Washington University in St. Louis where he earned his Ph.D. in physics. He then returned to UWRF in 1986, first as instructional academic staff, transitioning to tenure track in 1989.

Blodgett greatly enjoys teaching the experimental side of physics at all levels, from introductory labs through advanced laboratory. He is very interested in learning more about how students learn physics, with the goal of constantly reexamining and improving how introductory courses are taught.

Blodgett has taught more than 25 different physics courses at UWRF, ranging from conceptual physics to senior level quantum mechanics as well as graduate courses for high school physics teachers. He is learning how to teach in a completely new format in the recently completed Active Learning Classroom on campus.

Beyond teaching, Blodgett’s research interests include the Acoustics of Musical Instruments. He serves as advisor to the highly regarded UWRF chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), and has served on the National SPS Council for 15 years, including two consecutive terms as the national president. He advises the UWRF chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the honor society for physics. He is also a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Acoustical Society of America.

For the past three years, Blodgett has organized the popular Science Olympiad Border Battle held at UW-River Falls. This event attracts more than 800 students annually from approximately 25 high schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Participating teams complete in 28 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) events, such as magnetic levitation, geologic mapping, entomology and forensics.