News: Physics professor Sharon Rosell named 2013 Outstanding Chapter Adviser by SPS


BY EVAN THOMPSON, Online Editor

After years of teaching and countless hours spent outside the classroom as chapter adviser for Central’s Society of Physics Students, Sharon Rosell has helped her students do just about everything but recreate the Big Bang.

Some may consider her latest achievement to have similar stature as that of the explosion that is thought to have created the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

In October, the SPS named Sharon Rosell, adviser for Central’s Society of Physics Students, 2013’s Outstanding Chapter Adviser, a nationwide award. Rosell was one of eight finalists, who were  nominated from a field of 800 clubs across the country.

The award will be presented to Rosell at the winter meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers held Jan. 4-7 in Orlando, Fla. The award will consist of a plaque and three checks totaling $5,000, which will be split between Rosell, the chapter and the department.

SPS is a professional association which focuses on encouraging professional development and contributions to the field, as well as promoting physics to the public.

Although this “Big Bang” was on a much  smaller scale, it was created through Rosell’s passion, dedication and encouragement.

“Well, it’s an affirmation of my entire career here,” Rosell said. “We’re one of the smaller universities in the state and we’re not a private university with a lot of funding, and we’re scrambling for funds all the time.”

Rosell has been Central’s SPS chapter adviser for 18 of the last 20 years, and has seen her students create everything from trebuchets to a vortex cannon.

The chapter is not all about physics-oriented activities, though. Rosell encourages a social atmosphere for the chapter, which often works on outreach to the community.

The students build all of their own equipment, which leads to fun activities such as rocket launches and a trebuchet that launched potatoes and cabbages.

During her time with the chapter outside of the classroom, Rosell has done things like sled over snow and water and has learned how to skip rocks.

The SPS received letters of recommendation in support for Rosell’s nomination, which documented how Rosell rose to the challenges she faced, produced award winning chapters and patiently worked to develop student leadership in the chapter, all while maintaining her contributions to the physics community.

The chapter meets once a week for as long as 30 minutes or longer. Members consist of mostly sophomores and upperclassmen, as well as a few active freshmen.

Rosell has done her part as role model and leader for the chapter. She says she has noticed that her students have stepped into a leadership role as well.

“What I like to see, and what we’ve had very much the past few years, is good leadership,” Rosell said. “The president, the vice president, and all the other officers are giving good leadership and the other students are contributing with ideas, and are [enthusiastic]. And if we’re going to go on a field trip or do some outreach, they offer to volunteer their time.”

Rosell’s students are currently working on correcting the pendulum in the center of Lind Hall.

They also create and provide useful tools for local schools, such as light boxes for Ellensburg high school.

In Rosell’s award letter, SPS director Toni Sauncy spoke of the letters of recommendation for Rosell being “truly inspirational and memorable.”

Rosell, who is in her last year as a professor at Central, said she was proud to have won the award not only for her, but for her students and for the university.

“It’s amazing that I got it, not just for me, but for Central Washington University,” Rosell said. “It feels really good. It’s like saying I’ve done a good job with my students since I’ve been here.”

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