Colloquia & Guest Speakers

Changing the Demographics of Physics Graduate Education: The APS Bridge Program

Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society, College Park, MD

Monday, March 23, 2015
3 p.m.–4 p.m.

Goergen 101, Sloan Auditorium


In nearly every science, math, and engineering field there is a significant falloff in participation by underrepresented minority (URM) students who fail to make the transition between undergraduate and graduate studies.  The American Physical Society (APS) has realized that a professional society can erase this gap by acting as a national recruiter of URM physics students and connecting these individuals with graduate programs that are eager to a) attract motivated students to their program, b) increase domestic student participation, and c) improve the diversity of their program.  In only two years the APS has placed enough students into graduate programs nationwide to effectively eliminate this achievement gap.  The program has low costs, is very popular among graduate programs, and has encouraged a number of universities to adopt practices that improve their graduate admissions and retention.  The structure is disciplinary specific, but can be adapted to other fields of study.  This presentation will describe programmatic elements, present data that demonstrate the project’s effectiveness, and discuss related efforts by APS that are helping make physics education available to all.


Theodore Hodapp is the Director of Education and Diversity for the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. The APS Department of Education and Diversity runs programs that advocate issues relevant to minorities and women, and in areas of education and careers.  Hodapp is Project Director of the APS Bridge Program, and also helps lead a large NSF and APS-funded national effort, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), which seeks to improve the quality and quantity of high school physics teachers.  He is the Principal Investigator on several grants that support the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which bring together nearly every undergraduate woman studying physics in the United States, and is currently developing a national effort to provide local mentors for underrepresented minority students studying physics, the APS National Mentoring Community. 

Before coming to the APS, Hodapp served as Program Director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education, working with programs in curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation, scholarships, education assessment and digital libraries.

Prior to coming to the NSF, Hodapp was professor and chair of the Hamline University Physics Department in St. Paul, Minnesota. He served as chair of the Physics and Astronomy Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His research interests include laser cooling, optical modeling, and physics education research.