Katie Mack wins 2024 AAPT Richtmyer Award

account_circle By Scott Johnston
Katie Mack, Perimeter's Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication, has earned recognition from a national organization of physics teachers for sharing the wonders of science.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) has awarded the 2024 Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award to Katherine (Katie) Mack for “outstanding contributions to physics and for effectively communicating those contributions to physics educators.”

Mack holds the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at Perimeter Institute, where she studies dark matter, galaxy formation, and the early universe. She is also a committed proponent of physics outreach.

“Mack is an exceptional science communicator,” said Perimeter Director Robert Myers. “She understands that science is for everyone and benefits all of us. The universe is an exciting place, and Mack has a knack for conveying that excitement.”

Mack’s many public engagement activities include podcasts, interviews, lectures, and school visits. She is also active on social media, where she has more than 400,000 Twitter followers as @AstroKatie. Her first book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2020.

One of Mack’s nominators wrote that she “deftly breaks down complex topics and uses simple wording and analogies to help [the public] understand. Because of this, many physics teachers (both high school and post-secondary) and physics students follow her on Twitter.”

The Richtmyer Award was established in 1941. The winner delivers a lecture for a non-specialist audience at the annual AAPT winter meeting.

Previous winners include Nobel Prize winners Kip Thorne and Steven Weinberg; astronomer Vera Rubin, known for her ground-breaking dark matter research; Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the discoverer of pulsars; and Enrico Fermi, the creator of the first nuclear reactor.

“I’m thrilled and deeply honoured to receive this recognition from the AAPT, and to be placed in such distinguished company,” said Mack.

“Physics educators do incredibly important work, and I am constantly inspired by their commitment to help students connect to the universe around them and to experience the awe, wonder, and power of understanding that first drew me to the study of cosmology. I look forward to connecting with AAPT members in person and to delivering the Richtmyer Lecture in January.”

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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