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Physics education student receives prestigious national scholarship

February 24, 2014
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Michael Yohn

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire physics education major, University Honors Program participant and Blugold Fellow Michael Yohn recently was named a 2013 Barbara Lotze Scholarship for Future Teachers recipient.

The junior, a native of Marshfield, was selected by the American Association of Physics Teachers Executive Board to receive the prestigious national scholarship. Only five scholarships are available annually.

Recipients of the scholarship are awarded a stipend of up to $2,000 and a complimentary yearlong AAPT student membership. All applicants must be in undergraduate preparation to become a physics teacher.

Dr. Matt Evans, UW-Eau Claire professor of physics and astronomy and president of the Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers, taught a first-year experience course last semester in which Yohn volunteered to mentor. He also wrote Yohn's letter of recommendation for the scholarship.

"His transformation from awkward freshman to outstanding senior is definitely apparent as he serves as both a class resource and a mentor for these incoming freshmen," Evans said in his letter. "His effectiveness in this learning community is obvious from the student's actions. He makes them feel completely at ease with his teaching style."

Evans also noted that Yohn had attended the fall meeting of the Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers held at UW-Eau Claire. Yohn volunteered at the meeting, presented his research to the association and attended a workshop.

"After the workshop, he continued to work on one of the examples that had been presented and sent it back to the workshop leader along with a note of thanks," Evans said. "This appreciation for the community of learning will add to his quiver of traits that will allow him to be a great physics teacher."

Dr. J. Erik Hendrickson, professor of physics and astronomy and Yohn's academic adviser, has known Yohn since he arrived at UW-Eau Claire in fall 2011. Hendrickson commended Yohn's ability to create his own academic path and follow it determinedly, and praised his excellent academic success.

"Although I have not had Michael in one of my classes, he is a wonderful student to have as an advisee, as he is so well prepared," Hendrickson said. "He is a positive influence to the younger majors and extremely collegial with his peers and professors."

Yohn says that his interests in physics started in high school and have only increased since then. His passion for the subject has motivated him to become an educator to share his knowledge with students.

"I hope to inspire the same joy in learning physics within my students as I take out of learning it right now," Yohn said. "Physics, at least from my perspective, is really, really cool! I want to give that same sense to my students down the road — to open their eyes to the world that I've discovered so that they can keep exploring and learning about it for themselves."

Yohn is a member of the Chess and Games Club, webmaster for the Society of Physics Students, member of Sigma Pi Sigma, and volunteer physics lab assistant and mentor.

For more information, contact Michael Yohn at yohnmj@uwec.edu.

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