The Oersted Medal, established in 1936, recognizes those who have had an outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics. The recipient delivers an address at an AAPT Winter Meeting and receives a monetary award, the Oersted Medal, an Award Certificate, and travel expenses to the meeting.

David Sokoloff has been named as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The Medal was awarded at a ceremonial session of the 2020 AAPT Winter Meeting, Orlando, FL. It recognizes his outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics through his contributions to the development of active learning strategies and materials to motivate students—especially those using computer-based tools—and his extensive dissemination activities.

Sokoloff is Professor of Physics, Emeritus at the University of Oregon. He earned his B.A. at Queens College of the City University of New York and his Ph.D. in AMO Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For over three decades, he has studied students' conceptual understandings and developed active learning approaches (with NSF and FIPSE support). These include Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs) and the four modules of Real Time Physics: Active Learning Laboratories (RTP), both published by Wiley and co-authored by Priscilla Laws and Ronald Thornton. His work has been published in the American Journal of Physics, the European Journal of Physics, Physical Review, Physics Education Research, and The Physics Teacher. He has conducted numerous international and national workshops to disseminate these active learning approaches to secondary and university faculty. Since 2004, he has been a member of the UNESCO Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) team, presenting workshops in more than 30 developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is a contributor to and an editor of the ALOP Training Manual. The ALOP team was awarded the 2011 SPIE Educator Award. He was awarded the American Physical Society (APS) 2010 Excellence in Physics Education Award (with Priscilla Laws and Ronald Thornton) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) 2007 Robert A. Millikan Medal. He has been a Fulbright Specialist in Argentina (2011) and Japan (2018), is currently a member of IUPAP Commission 14 (International Commission on Physics Education), and has served in AAPT's Presidential Chain (2009–2012).The title of his talk at the Winter Meeting was “If Opportunity Doesn't Knock, Build a Door—My Path to Active Dissemination of Active Learning

The Melba Newell Phillips Medal, established in 1981, is presented to AAPT leaders who, like Melba Newell Phillips herself, have provided creative leadership and dedicated service that resulted in exceptional contributions to AAPT. The recipient delivers an address at the AAPT Meeting at which the medal is presented and receives a monetary award, the Melba Newell Phillips Medal, an Award Certificate, and travel expenses to the meeting. The medal is presented only occasionally.

The 2020 Melba Newell Phillips Medal will be awarded to Richard Peterson, University Professor of Physics—Emeritus, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN. Peterson has brought to AAPT's executive level leadership a passion for experimental physics and its impact on the lives of students in high school, introductory, and advanced laboratories. Following work with the AAPT Apparatus Committee (starting in 1976), he was NSF Principal Investigator for AAPT's Lab Focus-'93 that sought to reinvigorate all physics teaching lab experiences. Later, he helped to form the AAPT Laboratories Committee with its emphasis on encouraging more effective physics laboratories. While an AAPT leader, he worked with others in the formation of ALPhA (Advanced Laboratory Physics Association) as a charter ALPhA Board member—helping organize the first ALPhA national conference (2009) at the University of Michigan. He received the American Physical Society's (APS) prize for outstanding research at an undergraduate school and was elected an APS Fellow in 2005. He was recognized with the Jonathan F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction in 2017. He served six years on the AAPT Executive Board as Secretary and four years (2003–2007) within the Presidential track—followed by three years as the first AAPT Meetings Committee Chair. His many years of dedicated and creative leadership have had a lasting impact on AAPT, how we do advanced labs as physics faculty, and on the lives of countless students.

He was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin—River Falls, with a Ph.D. in Physics earned at Michigan State—followed by postdoctoral positions in the Physics Division at Los Alamos. His formative decade in physics teaching was at Western Illinois University, with the last 40 years at Bethel University. In 2006, he was appointed the first University Professor at Bethel University for his research, teaching, and physics community service. He served in a 2010–2012 appointment as a Program Director within NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in Arlington, VA. In 2010, the Optical Society of America (OSA) recognized him as a Senior Member for work in optics, and he has served as a Traveling Lecturer for the OSA. He especially enjoys the development of new apparatus for interactive physics demonstrations and laboratories and has widely shared these demonstrations. His presentations on lecture demonstrations, advanced laboratories, and undergraduate research include those in South Korea, North Korea, China, Latvia, and Kenya. On being recognized with this award, Peterson said: “My professional life has been made possible by physics teaching. This includes all those teachers who have sacrificially believed in me, and also the ways my life has been transformed by the joys and challenges of my own teaching efforts.” The title of his talk at the Winter Meeting was “Changed … by a high and humbling calling.