Biographies: Cornell University

Marty Alderman 2007-2011

Alderman My name is Marty Alderman, and I am a nerd. Being a nerd has been very, very, good to me. I have always loved science, even as a kid. In fact, I obtained my first FCC Amateur radio (Ham) license when I was only 12 years old.

I started my university studies at Kent State, in Ohio, although I ultimately transferred to the State University of NY at Buffalo because of the political upheaval, and earned both my Bachelors and Masters degrees at Buffalo. KSU was a good place for me to start because I had the wonderful experience of having Waldo Semon as a professor in Honors Chemistry. Dr.Semon was a great teacher and human being. He discovered how to plasticize PVC, making it a useful product, obtained 116 patents, and informed me that I should be a teacher. He was right, and I have just "graduated" from a thirty year career teaching high school physics.

My years of teaching physics at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, in suburban Syracuse, NY, included all levels of physics, with the majority of my career spent teaching the honors and AP students. I have enjoyed working with teens in many different contexts, including 11 years of being a mentor/coach for students on the Science Olympiad team with 9 trips to the national championships and one first place finish.

Marine biology is an avocation that induced me to lead 15 field studies to Mexico. I taught the students to SCUBA dive, and then guided them in learning about the coral reef. My avocation also took me to the Red Sea for three summers of assisting a research team from the University of Puerto Rico, and then to a summer in Fiji leading a research expedition with high school students to collect data while underwater.

Over the years, I have taken many courses and attended many workshops and conferences and presented at some of them in order to continue to grow as an educator. I spent the last 5 summers as one of the instructors for the Cornell Institute for Physics Teachers (CIPT). I can say, with confidence, that the physics teachers I have worked with are some of the most creative and dedicated people it has been my pleasure to know!

Yes, being a nerd has been very good to me, and I am thrilled to be continuing my career as a TIR in the PhysTEC project at Cornell.

Jim Overhiser

Overhiser Teacher in Residence, 2009-2010
Visiting Master Teacher, 2010-2011

I have spent the past 30 years as a science teacher waiting for a school bell to tell me what to do next. As my role as PhysTEC Teacher In Residence at Cornell begins, I look forward with great anticipation to my life without bells. And I am excited about my charge of enticing undergrads into the great profession of Physics teaching.

I began my teacher training as a Biology/Chemistry major at State University of New York at Cortland. Through a variety of career choices and interests, I was drawn to the dark-energy side of science and discovered the joys of teaching physical science. Most of my first 23 years of teaching was in a small rural school in central New York where I taught 3-4 preps a year. In total, I am certified in all sciences 7-12 and I have taught them all including a few stints at the college level. For the last 10 years I have focused on my favorite teaching assignment of all...Physics! In fact, 4 years ago, I changed jobs to Cortland High School so I could teach only physics.

My evolution from Biology teacher to Physics teacher has always been a source of strength in my teaching. Without the undergraduate focus on physics, I feel it has made me more empathetic to my student's needs and more sensitive to their difficulties learning the concepts and materials of physics. This has given me an enhanced need to focus my professional development on both the content and the learning needs of my students.

I have a passion for improving my abilities as an educator averaging over 200 hours each year to personal and professional development. Living in an area that is rich in academia has afforded me many opportunities to attended lectures and workshops directly related to my physics teaching and instructional improvement. Since 2002, I have been involved in the development, lab writing and instructing at the Center for NanoSystems Institute for Physics Teachers (CIPT) at Cornell. And I recently completed a 10 year term as the Director for teacher development for the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS) to assume the executive position of President.

I sincerely look forward to working with PhysTEC and having the opportunity to have a direct impact on finding some our future best and brightest physics teachers.