August 01, 2023: Humans of JILA: Rachael Merritt
Rachael Merritt, a JILA postdoctoral research associate, discusses her journey into PER and her current project.

While many researchers within JILA focus on pushing the limits of particles in the quantum realm or learning more about the dynamics of black holes, others, like Rachael Merritt, look at how physics is currently being taught and ways to improve this process. Known as Physics Education Research (PER), this field is crucial in enhancing the quality of physics education by providing evidence-based insights into teaching and learning practices. As a postdoctoral research associate in JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski’s group, Merritt helps to lead some of the most cutting-edge research in PER in the United States.

July 25, 2023: JILA Fellow and University of Colorado Boulder Physics Professor Heather Lewandowski interviewed by Colorado 9News
Photo of Heather Lewandowski

Colorado 9News recently interviewed JILA Fellow and University of Colorado Boulder physics professor Heather Lewandowski as she discussed a recent paper with over 1,000 authors. This recent paper, published in the Astrophysical Journal, focused on solving the mystery of the Sun's corona, a ring of significantly hotter temperatures surrounding the Sun compared to its core. Lewandowski recruited over 1,000 undergraduate students as researchers to study this phenomenon as they analyzed data from observations of the corona. The entire project took multiple years and culminated in over 56,000 hours of research. In the 9News interview, Lewandowski stated: "It's really important for us to understand our Sun because it has a large impact on Earth."

May 17, 2023: JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski's research highlighted in "Popular Science" Magazine
Coronal loops on the sun are captured in ultraviolet light using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

JILA Fellow and University of Colorado physics professor Heather Lewandowski helped lead a group of more than 1,000 undergraduate students in a study looking at the temperatures of the Sun's corona. The corona, the outer layer, gets incredibly hot, and the study hoped to figure out why. Their research was featured in Popular Science Magazine, revealing the creativity and ingenuity of undergraduate students in scientific research. 

March 03, 2022: JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski joins ranks of President’s Teaching Scholars
From left, Michael Lightner, vice president for academic affairs; Cerian Gibbes; Heather Lewandowski; President Todd Saliman; Anna Kosloski; Maria Elena Buszek; and Raphael Sassower. Gibbes, Lewandowski, Kosloski and Buszek are the newest President’s Teaching Scholars; Sassower chairs the program’s council.

JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski has been honored in the 2022  President’s Teaching Scholars Program (PTSP), which recognizes CU faculty who skillfully integrate teaching and research at an exceptional level. Lewandowski's laboratory focuses on both cold molecular physics and physics education research. Her physics education research program studies ways to increase students' proficiency in scientific practices such as using models and quantitative reasoning in experimental physics. 

December 08, 2021: JILA Undergraduate Andres Villani Davila has been named "Oustanding Graduate" from CU Boulder
Photo of Andres Villani Davila

JILA Graduate Student Andres Villani Davila has been awarded a 2021 "Oustanding Graduate for Research" Award by the University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Davila works under JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski and is pursuing a B.S. in Engineering Physics.

February 15, 2021: Heather Lewandowski wins the 2021 Boulder Faculty Excellence Award
Photo of Heather Lewandowski

JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski has been awarded the 2021 Boulder Faculty Excellence Award. This award was given specifically for Lewandowski's excellence in teaching and pedagogy.

October 23, 2018: Heather Lewandowski awarded APS Advanced Lab Instruction Prize

The American Physical Society announced JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski as the 2019 recipient of the F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction.

October 03, 2018: Three JILA Fellows named 2018 APS Fellows

Three JILA Fellows have been named 2018 Fellows of the American Physical Society. The three new Fellows—Andreas Becker, Heather J. Lewandowski, and James K. Thompson—were nominated from varying divisions of APS. Andreas Becker was nominated by the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular & Optical physics for his contributions to the understanding of the behavior of atoms and molecules in intense light fields, including seminal theoretical studies of attosecond dynamics, photoionization, complex electron dynamics in simple systems such as H2, and a better understanding of high-harmonic generation.

October 01, 2018: Heather Lewandowski to receive 2018 Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to AAPT

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) announced last week that JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski will receive the association’s Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to AAPT. Lewandowski’s dual research areas are in fundamental experimental molecular physics and Physics Education Research (PER). Within PER, Lewandowski studies how the structures of upper-level labs for undergraduates can best transition students into research lab environments.

May 22, 2018: Ben Saarel named Outstanding Graduate and PAC-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Photograph of ben Saarel.

It was a busy week for recent CU Boulder graduate Benjamin (Ben) Saarel. Saarel, who for the past two years has worked as an undergraduate researcher in JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski's lab, graduated summa cum laude on 10 May 2018, earning his B. S. in Engineering Physics, and a minor in Computer Science. But that's not all. 

September 16, 2016: Maya Fabrikant Wins Journal of Physical Chemistry Poster Prize at 2016 MOLEC Conference
Maya Fabrikant photo.

Graduate student Maya Fabrikant has won one of three prizes awarded to the best posters presented by young researchers during the MOLEC 2016 conference held in Toledo, Spain September 11–16. Both graduate students and postdoctoral researchers were eligible for the prizes, which included a $200 Visa gift card. The three prizes were presented by the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

June 24, 2014: Three Young JILA Scientists Garner Poster Awards
Andrew Barentine photo.

Two JILA graduate students and one undergraduate student were recognized with awards for their posters and presentations at the recent Boulder Laboratories Postdoctoral Poster Symposium, held at NIST Boulder (325 Broadway) on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The Outstanding Presentation Award is a special recognition for selected poster presenters at the Boulder Laboratories Postdoctoral Poster Symposium.