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TCNJ Noyce Faculty

Return to: Noyce Physics Teacher Scholarship Program   TCNJ Noyce Scholar Profiles

Dr. Nathan Magee, Principal Investigator
Background:  I grew up in Chardon, Ohio — the buckle of the Northeast Ohio lake effect snowbelt!  I’ve never really stopped chasing those snowflakes. Great science and math teachers, and a passion for trying to understand nature led me to study physics at Carleton College in Minnesota, the Geophysical Institute in Alaska, and eventually to get my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science at Penn State.  Beyond TCNJ, I love spending time with my family, Maggie (a great seismologist), Ben (13), and June (10).  I also enjoy rooting for the hapless Cleveland sports teams, gardening, hiking, skiing, tinkering with my power tools, and trying to beat my friends at golf.
Research interests:  In addition to my work with the Noyce project and physics teacher education, I also lead an experimental Atmospheric Physics research lab at TCNJ. We study high-altitude cirrus clouds and work to understand how they affect Earth’s changing climate.  We are able to use weather balloons and cryo-electron microscopy to learn fundamentally new things about the ice crystals that make up cirrus clouds.  I especially enjoy introducing TCNJ students, including future teachers, to the excitement of scientific discovery.  After all, ice crystals are just so cool! (a pun for Alex C.)
My website:  https://owd.tcnj.edu/~magee (badly needs updating!)
Why do you like to teach?  I love to do research toward scientific discovery, but without sharing that passion it feels empty to me.  All the training and work that it takes to be a good teacher are not easy, but science is fun, and working with students makes all the effort worth it.  Helping students grow into outstanding young scientists and teachers who will make a big positive difference in society is immensely satisfying.
Why do you want to encourage others to teach?  The shortage of highly-qualified physics teachers is severe, and TCNJ is uniquely capable of helping to address that urgent need.  I also feel good about helping students find a fulfilling career where they’ll be able to use their passion and skill to inspire the next generation of scientists and informed citizens that our country desperately needs!
Describe a memorable teaching experience.
I will always remember my first semester as an instructor during grad school — I was amazed how much I enjoyed it, and I was so excited that my students were succeeding. Back then, I even liked grading!
What does the Noyce program mean to you?  To me, the Noyce program is a great catalyst for what we hope our Physics Teacher Education program can be at TCNJ:  accessible, supportive, and impactful.  Foremost, it is difficult and very expensive for a student to become a new physics teacher, so it’s essential that we make that pathway as smooth and obstacle-free as possible!  Once students find a passion for teaching physics, Noyce enables us to provide resources, opportunities, and support for students to thrive as they grow into outstanding new teachers.  Finally, as students begin their careers teaching, Noyce helps students connect with a community network of physics teachers, faculty, and students who are mutually striving to make physics education the best it can be.

Dr. Lauren Madden, Co-Principal Investigator
Background: 
 I grew up on Long Island, New York and did the East Coast tour for a while before settling in New Jersey. My goal is to advocate for scientific literacy and the health of our planet through teaching and learning. I have a BA in Earth Sciences-Oceanography from the University of New Hampshire, MS in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina, and a PhD in Science Education from North Carolina State University. I live in Lawrenceville, NJ with my husband Mike, twin nearly-8-year-olds, Connor and Luke, dog Macaroni, and cat Red Sauce. I love to bake, travel, read, and listen to live music. 
Research interests: 
 My current research is focused on three different areas:  recruitment and retention of secondary physics teachers, arts-integration into STEM (STEAM), and professional development around environmental science, specifically climate change.
My website: 
http://maddenl.pages.tcnj.edu/
Why do you like to teach? 
I love college students and I love science. I love it when I hear “that’s funny” and see surprised looks on students’ faces as they discover new things. I like helping people connect with the scientific processes in the world around them. 
Why do you want to encourage others to teach? 
First- everything that is wrong in the world was caused by adults. Working with people before they become adults is probably the most hopeful act a person can engage in. Second- we need to help others make decisions informed by science. We do that by being great science teachers. 
Describe a memorable teaching experience. 

I had students create discrepant event demonstrations to share with classmates and one group chose to fill a container with acetone and add styrofoam packing peanuts which quickly dissolved. They didn’t realize the container was plastic (and neither did I), until it was time to clean up and a long strand of dripping clear plastic trailed from underneath the cup. I changed gears for the rest of the class and the rest of the semester and had my students design experiments to try and figure out what happened in that container. The entire semester was dedicated to solving the mystery and learning about polymers. 
What does the Noyce program mean to you? 
For me, the Noyce program builds community around physics and STEM education in a way that is inclusive of faculty, preservice, and practicing teachers. The knowledge-sharing that takes place throughout all aspects of the program, especially through STEP-UP and the PTAG meetings makes us all better teachers and community members.

Dr. AJ Richards, Co-Principal Investigator
Background: 
 I’m originally from Clinton, NJ and I live in Hillsborough now.  My undergraduate education came at TCNJ and I did my graduate work at Rutgers University, culminating in a Physics Ph. D. in 2013.  My wife and I are both TCNJ alumni and science teachers, and we welcomed our first kiddo in Summer 2019, so he takes up most of our time and attention.  In my free time I enjoy playing sports (especially volleyball) and video games.
Research interests: 
 My specialization is Physics Education Research, which means I study how students learn physics and how we can teach it most effectively.  Some of my main areas of interest include diversity and equity issues, student reasoning, and teacher preparation.
My website:  https://richards.pages.tcnj.edu/
Why do you like to teach?  Have you ever loved a TV show and you want to get other people into it so they can love it too?  That’s how I feel about physics.  Physics is so beautiful and fascinating to me, and I think other people will appreciate that beauty too if I can help them see it.  Furthermore, I really enjoy the interactions with students (some happy and inspirational, some just uproariously funny), and it’s tremendously rewarding to see their understanding evolve through our hard work together.
Why do you want to encourage others to teach? 
Research shows teachers make a huge impact on students’ attitudes towards physics and their likelihood to pursue it.  And there simply aren’t enough good physics teachers out there; the shortage is at crisis levels.  To me, physics has an image problem, in that so many people are terrified by it because they had bad experiences with the subject in high school.  Then there are fewer people interested in physics and the shortage just gets worse and worse.  If we continue to recruit and train outstanding physics teachers, more students will become excited about it and that’s a great thing for the field.
Describe a memorable teaching
experience.
My first time walking into the front of a classroom as a graduate Teaching Assistant certainly is memorable to me.  I was so anxious that (A) I would mess up or (B) I would hate it and have to reevaluate my life plan!  A came true, B did not.
I also find it very memorable when students who take physics courses reluctantly to fill a requirement tell me at the end of the term that they actually enjoyed it and found it interesting.  Convincing a non-physicist that physics is cool is a great feeling!
What does the Noyce program mean to you?  The Noyce program is an opportunity to help address inequality within physics education.  If the general shortage of physics teachers is a crisis, then the shortage of physics teachers in high-need schools is a catastrophe.  Motivating cohorts of outstanding physics instructors to help fill this need is an important calling.

Dr. Marissa Bellino, Co-Principal Investigator
Background:
Research interests:
My website:
Why do you like to teach?
Why do you want to encourage others to teach?
Describe a memorable teaching experience.
What does the Noyce program mean to you?

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