Florida State University Physics Professor Susan Blessing, who was recently elected to be a Fellow of the American Physical Society, will be the scientific keynote speaker at this fall’s induction ceremony for the Dr. James T. and Jana L. Cook Future Physicists of Florida FSU Panama City Chapter, where middle schoolers from Bay County will be recognized for achievement in math and science.
The ceremony will be held on Monday, November 27 at FSU’s Panama City Campus.
Professor Blessing joined the FSU Physics faculty and the department’s high energy physics group in 1993.
In addition to being a member of the Physics faculty, Professor Blessing serves as Director of FSU’s Women in Math, Science and Engineering Living Learning Community, a position she has held since 2005. In this position, Professor Blessing is the university’s leading advocate for women in the computing, engineering and physics fields in which women are most strongly underrepresented.
Professor Blessing assumed formal leadership of the Physics Department’s undergraduate program in 2011, although she had made innovations in the program since 2001. Under her leadership, the program was recently recognized as one of five national model undergraduate physics programs by a task force on undergraduate education assembled by the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Future Physicists of Florida (FPF) was founded to recognize middle school students with ability in math and science and to encourage those students – and especially their parents – to persevere in the upper level high school math and science courses necessary to properly prepare for the rigorous college majors in engineering, physical sciences, computing and health professions. Last fall, FPF induction ceremonies were held in Bay County, the Florida Keys and at FSU, and more than 400 students were inducted.
The first FPF ceremony for Bay County students was held in the fall of 2015, and during the last two years more than 300 students from the county have been recognized.
FPF is only one of the activities that the Bay District Schools and FSU have undertaken to improve the preparation of the county’s students for rigorous college majors in STEM fields. Among other activities, FSU has purchased physics laboratory equipment that is being used at four of the district’s high schools. Districtwide high school physics enrollments have tripled since 2015-16.
The Bay County FPF chapter was named for the Cooks in February of this year after they made a gift to establish the FSU Panama City STEM Institute Endowed Fund, which is providing annual support for STEM activities at FSU Panama City and around the district.