"This is a tremendous honor for Dr. Formica and for North Georgia," Dr. Patricia Donat, vice president for academic affairs, said. "Known as a skilled instructor who engages and challenges her students, Dr. Formica is a recognized scholar in physics education and in her research area of x-ray fluorescence. She is an outstanding faculty member and an excellent example of North Georgia's emphasis on teaching."
The Callaway Foundation created the Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Trust in 1968 in order to enable universities to retain and attract superior faculty members by providing funds for 40 professorial chairs to 33 colleges and graduate schools. Chairs are selected based on their professional academic accomplishments. After an official nomination is made by the University, each submission is evaluated by a four-person board comprised of the chancellor of the University System of Georgia, the president of the private senior college or university in Georgia with the largest undergraduate enrollment, the executive director of the Atlanta University Center, and the Georgia market president of Bank of America, N.A.
"I am both thrilled and honored to be selected for the Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Chair," Formica said. "I am looking forward to using this opportunity to share my experiences and successes in teaching with my colleagues at North Georgia, as well as other educators in the state."
Beginning her career at North Georgia in 2005, Formica received her doctorate in physics from the State University of New York in Albany in 2006. She is currently an associate professor of physics, and in 2010 her physics education research was published in "Physical Review."
"During her tenure at North Georgia, she has implemented new teaching methods for introductory physics courses and has led the department in the adoption of an open lab format," Donat said. "Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is contagious, inspiring both colleagues and students."
Though her research was in x-ray physics, x-ray optics, and x-ray materials analysis, Formica says her true passion is in physics education research and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
"I hope to continue to help our physics department grow and flourish by engaging our students in undergraduate research and inquiry," Formica said. "It is my goal to appeal to students by teaching them with non-traditional methods that make class interesting and fun, while also teaching them to be leaders and take responsibility for their own learning."
Formica also plans to present workshops on active-engagement teaching methods to professors of North Georgia, the University System of Georgia, and high-school teachers in the region to generate additional interest in the study of physics.
"North Georgia has one of the largest physics departments in the state, and I want to help maintain that momentum and continue to grow by providing teachers and students of physics with a comprehensive learning experience," she said.