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Hudson awarded C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching

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04 October 2017

Eric HudsonEric Hudson, associate professor of physics and associate head for diversity and equity in the Department of Physics at Penn State, will be presented with the 2017 C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society during an event held on the University Park campus on October 6, 2017. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Students, faculty members, and alumni nominate outstanding faculty members who best exemplify the key characteristics of a Penn State educator, and a committee of students selects the award winners from the group of nominees.

Hudson is being honored for his ability to turn challenging concepts into engaging course material. One student commented that, although the material is difficult, Hudson presents it in a way that is both interesting and accessible. Another student acknowledged the many resources Hudson provides to help his students flourish.

“Learning involves focused, monitored effort on the part of students," said Hudson, “thus good teaching involves motivating and providing students with the resources they need to make that effort.”

Hudson also believes in the ability of all students to contribute to solving problems, which has led to his involvement in a variety of diversity initiatives and outreach activities. In addition to serving as the associate department head for equity and diversity in the physics department, he is also the director of education, outreach, and diversity programs for the 2D Crystal Consortium (an NSF user facility on campus), the chair of the Penn State Materials Research Science & Engineering Centers (MRSEC) Diversity Committee, and the faculty advisor for STEMComm and the Physics Outreach Program -- student groups focused on professional development and outreach.

In his research, Hudson investigates complex materials using atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopy -- imaging techniques that allow observations at an atomic scale. With the decreasing size of man-made devices and increasing use of material systems -- such as graphene -- that are only a single atomic layer thick, the ability to measure nanoscale structural and electronic properties of materials is crucial.

“Even a single elemental impurity or missing atom can impact the properties of nanoscale materials and the devices they comprise,” said Hudson. “I hope to understand, for example, the impact of single atom impurities on the structural and electronic properties of neighboring atoms, and to investigate the exotic phenomena that can now be unleashed by building custom materials one atomic layer at a time.”

Hudson’s commitment to teaching and diversity have been recognized on numerous occasions in the past. He received the Penn State Society of Physics Students Faculty Teaching Award in 2013, the MIT Excellence Award for Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in 2009, the MIT Everett Moore Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2008, the Irwin Sizer Award for Significant Improvement to MIT Education in 2008, and the MIT Buechner Teaching Prize in Physics in 2007. He also received the Research Corporation Cottrell Scholarship from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement in 2006 and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004.

Hudson joined the Penn State faculty as an associate professor in 2011 and was appointed the associate head for equity and diversity for the Department of Physics in 2015. He simultaneously served as a visiting scholar at Harvard University and senior lecturer at MIT from 2010 to 2011. Prior to that, he was assistant professor and then associate professor at MIT from 2002 until 2010. Hudson was a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland from 2000 to 2001 and at the University of California, Berkeley in 1999. He earned a doctoral degree in physics in 1999 and a master’s degree in physics in 1994 at the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in physics and linguistics in 1992 at the University of Chicago.

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