Ben Zwickl will spend the fall in Oslo studying computer literacy and career interests of physics students

A faculty member from RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy will travel to the University of Oslo this fall to research what he calls one of the least studied aspects of the physics curriculum undergraduate. Associate Professor Ben Zwickl received a prestigious Fulbright US Scholar Award for studying computer literacy and the professional interest of physics students in laboratory environments.

Fulbright Laureates

RIT students, alumni and faculty have had another successful year earning prestigious Fulbright Awards for pursuing immersive global experiences. Three recent graduates received awards under the Fulbright US Student Program for the 2022-2023 academic year and two professors received Fulbright Scholar Awards. Learn more about the winners >

Computational literacy refers to the set of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable students to apply computational tools to problems they face within their scientific community. Zwickl will collaborate with experts from the Center for Computing in Science Education at the University of Oslo to examine how the lab environment shapes students’ computing culture, how lab experiences shape students’ interests in practical careers, and how laboratory teaching can be transformed to better integrate experimental and computer training. Zwickl said the Fulbright experience will provide him with a unique opportunity to build on the two main themes of his research career: laboratory teaching and career preparation.

“It’s an exciting chance to immerse yourself in a research group that is really focused on integrating computation into science,” Zwickl said. “Scandinavian countries have different approaches to linking educational and professional paths. It’s a different system, a set of constraints and a set of opportunities, so trying to understand professional career development in a different context will be really valuable.

Zwickl said while based in Norway, he will visit other physics teaching groups in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the UK. He hopes his experience will seed new international collaborations for RIT and bring more opportunities to integrate calculus into the RIT College of Science curriculum.

After Zwickl completed his Fulbright experience in December, he said he would continue his year-long sabbatical by spending several weeks at Fisk University, a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he will collaborate with a faculty member from the Mathematics and Computer Science department. Department to study how their students seek and pursue internship opportunities and make broader career decisions.

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