Priscilla W. Laws

Research Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA 17013
(717) 245-1242
(717) 245-1642 (fax)

Professional Biographical Sketch

Priscilla Laws received a B.A. from Reed College in 1961 and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in 1966, where she studied nuclear physics. She joined the faculty at Dickinson in 1965 and began focusing her efforts on the health effects of radiation which led to the publication of two consumer books on medical x-rays. Since 1986, she has dedicated herself to the development of activity-based curricular materials and computer software to enhance student learning in introductory physics courses. This work has resulted in the publication of curricular materials developed with members of the Activity-Based Physics Group and published by John Wiley & Sons. These include the Workshop Physics Activity Guide, Understanding Physics, and several RealTime Physics Laboratory Modules. She is also a co-author of Physics with Video Analysis, published by Vernier Software and Technology in 2009.

She has received several national awards for educational innovations and software design. These include a Charles A. Dana award for Pioneering Achievement in Education (1994) and the Robert A. Millikan Medal for notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics from the American Association of Physics Teachers (1996). She is currently promoting ways to use physics research and education to enhance sustainable development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She received the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE) 2008 Medal in recognition of distinguished contributions to Physics Education with far reaching international impact. In 2010 she shared the American Physical Society's Excellence in Physics Education award with David Sokoloff and Ronald Thornton for "For twenty-three years of national and international leadership in the design, testing, validation, and dissemination of research-based introductory physics curricula, computer tools and apparatus . . ."

Priscilla enjoys hiking and reading books of all kinds. Her recent favorites (aside from her husband's book, Physics and the Art of Dance) include Edward Wilson's Consilience, Mary Pavlesky's Atomic Fragments, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, as well Barbara Kingsolver's books, Poisonwood Bible and Small Wonder. She also loves spending time with her grandchildren Adam, Kyra, Hana and Daniel.