Physicist Tatiana Erukhimova Earns National Award For Science Outreach
Texas A&M University physicist Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the American Physical Society Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach.
Established in 1994 by the Division of Plasma Physics and the Forum on Physics and Society, the Nicholson Medal is awarded annually in recognition of the humanitarian aspect of physics and physicists created through public lectures and public media, teaching, research or science-related activities. The medal is sponsored by the friends of the late plasma physicist and award namesake Dr. Dwight R. Nicholson (1947-1991), former chairman and professor of the University of Iowa Physics and Astronomy Department who was revered for his broad, idealistic outlook on life and strong humanitarian convictions.
Erukhimova, an instructional professor and outreach coordinator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 2006 and the inaugural holder of the Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68 Chair for Physics Outreach, is cited by the Nicholson Medal selection committee “for leadership in bringing the excitement of physics through innovative education programs, summer boarding schools for public high school teachers, the TAMU Physics and Engineering Festival, the Real Physics Live program, and online physics videos with more than 400 million views.”
“We are very proud, delighted and lucky to have such an amazing educator and popularizer of science, national celebrity Professor Tatiana Erukhimova, as a faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy,” said Dr. Grigory Rogachev, professor and head of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy. “Her unquenchable energy and infectious enthusiasm for science inspires thousands of young explorers — an entire new generation of physicists. The highly prestigious award by the American Physical Society announced today is a welcome confirmation of what we all already know — ‘Dr. Tatiana,’ as she is known among the Texas A&M students, is one of a kind.”
Erukhimova, a 2019 APS Fellow, is among roughly 80 physicists unveiled Tuesday (Oct. 24) as current APS Prize and Award recipients recognized for their excellence in contributions to physics research, service and teaching. She will be presented with the Nicholson Medal, which includes a $3,000 stipend and a commemorative certificate, during an awards ceremony at an upcoming APS meeting.
Previously recognized as a 2017 Texas A&M Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and a 2021-2024 Eppright Professor in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Erukhimova has a proven track record of success in teaching large introductory physics classes and transforming the relationship her students have with physics in the process. She is also known for involving undergraduate and graduate students in physics education research.
Erukhimova’s passion for inspiring learning through science has motivated the development of several innovative programs at Texas A&M that integrate education with science outreach and community service, including the annual Physics and Engineering Festival that attracts thousands of visitors from across the country to campus each spring and also reaches an international audience via livestream. Additional programs she’s either founded or helped organize during the last decade and a half include the popular Physics Show she’s hosted from more than 30,000 people since 2007, the DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering) Program for Texas A&M graduate and undergraduate physics and engineering students and the annual Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP) for high school physics teachers.
Within the past two years in particular, however, Erukhimova has endeared a global audience to her charismatic brand of science education through viral physics demonstration videos that have drawn a massive following to Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy’s social media accounts. Each new video averages more than a million views, along with untold numbers of likes, shares and comments from people who are drawn to her energetic teaching style and infectious enthusiasm for all things science. Traditional media has taken notice as well, resulting in multiple magazine covers, coast-to-coast in-studio appearances on CBS Mornings, ABC News and The Jennifer Hudson Show and both broadcast and print interviews with dozens of national, state and local outlets.
Erukhimova earned her Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999 and served four years as an assistant research scientist in the Texas A&M Department of Atmospheric Sciences (2002-2006) prior to joining the Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy faculty. She is a co-author along with Texas A&M Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Sciences Dr. Gerald R. North of the textbook Atmospheric Thermodynamics, published by Cambridge University Press (2009).
Erukhimova’s many career honors to date include the Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award (2021), a Fish Camp namesake (2019), Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards for Teaching (2012) as well as Extension and Outreach (2019), the Sigma Xi Outstanding Science Communicator Award (2014) and the John E. Trott Jr. Award in Student Recruiting (2013). She also served as chair of the American Association of Physics Teachers Committee on Science Education for the Public in 2020.
The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. The APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.