Flavio Fenton, a professor in the School of Physics, is one of two Georgia Tech faculty chosen to take part in the 25th annual Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program for the 2020-2021 school year, as announced earlier this month by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia.
Only two faculty members from each of the 26 University System of Georgia institutions are invited to participate in the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program each academic school year. Anna Holcomb, a lecturer in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and assistant director of the Undergraduate Professional Communication Program (UPCP), is also a 2020-2021 Fellow.
The Governor's Teaching Fellows Program was established in 1995 by former Governor Zell Miller to provide Georgia's higher education faculty with expanded opportunities for developing important teaching skills. Participants are selected “on the basis of their teaching experience, their interest in continuing instructional and professional development, their ability to make a positive impact on their own campus, and a strong commitment by their home institution for release time and other forms of support for the duration of their participation in the program.”
“Being a Governor’s Teaching Fellow is a great honor for me,” Fenton says. “Not only is it allowing me to further my teaching skills, but also it is making me transform how I approach teaching. This year-long program allows me to spend three days a month interacting closely with enthusiastic and thoughtful educators from other colleges and universities of Georgia and learning about several instructional techniques that have been new to me. The diverse composition in teaching fields of the Teaching Fellows cohort has opened me to new ways of thinking that will have an impact on how I select and organize course content and delivery in all my future courses.”
Fellows must work on a project during their appointed one-year term that will benefit both the faculty member and their school. Fenton is creating a large database of physics demonstrations to be used in Georgia Tech’s Physics I course, taken by nearly 2,000 students each year.
“The idea is to have at least two real-life demos for each class given in the semester to help exemplify the physics concept introduced in the class, which will be over 80 experimental demonstrations,” Fenton says. “The demos can help students stay focused and motivated and provide new opportunities for students to engage with the material as they connect theory with reality in an interactive way. The demos will also be recorded while being demonstrated, so that they can be used by instructors in other institutions if they do not have direct access to the equipment.”
Fenton came to Georgia Tech in 2012 as an associate professor, and was made a full professor in 2018. He received his B.S. in Physics from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.
Fenton and School of Physics colleague Carlos Silva were elected in 2019 to the American Physics Society Fellows program. Fenton has also won the 2017 Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, the 2017 Geoffrey B. Eichholz Faculty Teaching Award, and the 2018 Faculty Award for Academic Outreach.