Richtmyer Memorial Award

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The Richtmyer Memorial Award is an award for physics education, named for physicist Floyd K. Richtmyer and given annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Its recipients include over 15 Nobel Prize winners.[1]

Establishment and award criteria[edit]

Floyd T. Richtmyer (1881–1939) was one of the first presidents of the American Association of Physics Teachers and his work helped shape the development of physics in the United States. The Richtmyer Award was established in 1941, and is typically given to educators who have made outstanding contributions as teachers in their fields. It is awarded to those who have not only produced important current research in physics, but to those who have, by means of communication to both students and other educators, imparted information and motivation to participants in the field. The effective use of a teaching method in order to pass on information, and to stimulate interest in physics, is seen as being worthy of recognition in its own right, in addition to the importance of the production of new research.

Recipients of the award deliver a Keynote Address, the annual Richtmyer Lecture, which is designed for communication with non-specialist audiences, during the AAPT Winter Meeting.


Past recipients of the award include "a long list of giants in the field of physics" [2] such as UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau (1989); Steven Chu of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1990), who also is a UC Berkeley professor of physics and a physics Nobelist, and who has been the 12th United States Secretary of Energy since 2009; and physicists Charles Townes (1959), Emilio Segrè (1957), J. Robert Oppenheimer (1947),[3] and Nobel prize winner Carl Wieman of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996.[1]

Since its foundation in 1941, the following scientists from a wide number of institutions have received this award:

Source: American Association of Physics Teachers


It is the emphasis on mentoring younger teachers that has made the Richtmyer Award distinct from other teaching awards that centre mainly upon the education of students. The Richtmyer Award is the forerunner of modern awards such as the Young Faculty Award (YFA) program established by DARPA, the aim of which is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "CU-Boulder Physics Professor Receives National Teaching Award | University of Colorado Boulder". 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  2. ^ a b "Carnegie's Vera Rubin to Receive Richtmyer Award | Carnegie Institution for Science". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  3. ^ a b Sanders, Robert (2007-01-09). "01.09.2007 - Physics teaching award to astronomer Alex Filippenko". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  4. ^ "President's Profile - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  5. ^ "Jordan A. Goodman". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  6. ^ "Lab Awards | The Kapteyn-Murnane Group". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  7. ^ Richtmyer Award to Lene Hau
  8. ^ "Carlos Bustamante Page of the NSHP". 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  9. ^ Moler wins Richtmyer Award
  10. ^ "Random House, Inc. Academic Resources | Titles of Academic Interest for Universities and Colleges". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  11. ^ "Young Faculty". Retrieved 2013-01-26.