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Central Washington University

CWU Professor Named Nation’s Top Physics Club Advisor

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Sharon Rosell, Central Washington University physics professor, has received the 2013 Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award from the Society of Physics Students (SPS). SPS is a professional physics association that promotes the professional development of students and encourages their professional contributions to the field of physics, to the organization, and promoting physics to the public.

Rosell was one of eight finalists for the honor, nominated from among 800 clubs nationwide. 

“My students study very complicated mathematical-physics problems. They sit for hours just doing homework. I want them to have a social outlet,” Rosell gave as a reason for her involvement with the CWU SPS student chapter. “I want them to interact with each other, to grow up as people—not just intellectuals—and I want them to offer service to the community.”

The award is based on leadership, student leadership development, organization, the scope of a chapter’s activities, and the support and encouragement provided by the chapter advisor to create and sustain a successful SPS chapter.

“This is the highest honor I’ve personally received,” said Rosell. “But, I think, that each of the Outstanding Chapter awards that our students have gotten is as important to our club.” 

The CWU chapter has won those SPS awards 16 times since the 1993-94 academic year. As the CWU student chapter advisor for 18 of the last 20 years, Rosell has been called a tireless champion for SPS from the local chapter to the SPS National Council, where she served from 1998 to 2004. Through her teaching and mentoring, she has impacted the lives of countless Central physics students and has seen the university’s SPS chapter repeatedly recognized for excellence.

In Rosell’s award letter, Toni Sauncy, SPS director, called her nomination “awe inspiring.” It was noted that Rosell seamlessly picks up where her classroom efforts leave off in order to ensure the success of her SPS chapter students.

“I spend time with the students,” Rosell says. “I go with them on field trips and help them with their outreach efforts—we do a lot of outreach together. But, I let them lead and make decisions, and they’ve done a good job.”

Her students outreach efforts, which include physics outreach to the local community, especially to children, also earned the CWU chapter the SPS Marsh White Award in 2012 and 2013.

Mike Jackson, CWU physics department faculty member, and former physics chair, nominated Rosell for the award. He pointed out, “This is the first time a CWU faculty member has received it [the SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor award]. I was very happy to see Sharon selected. She has certainly led our student chapter to do great things year after year.”

The award consists of a plaque and an honorarium totaling $5,000. Of that, $3,000 goes to the chapter advisor, $1,000 to the chapter, and $1,000 to the recipient’s physics department. Rosell will officially receive her award during the 2014 American Association of Physics Teachers winter meeting in Orlando, Florida, next January.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

October 9, 2013

Photo: Sharon Rosell, third from left, with members of the CWU SPS student chapter

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