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U of I Physics Professor Named ‘Professor Of The Year’

Mats Selen sitting in his office on the University of Illinois Urbana campus

U of I physics professor Mats Selen was named Professor of the Year by two national organizations Elizabeth Innes/University of Illinois

A University of Illinois physics professor credits his department and the university for his recent Professor of the Year award.  Mats Selen received the honor from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching on November 19. 

Selen traveled to Washington, D.C. over the weekend to accept the award.

He says he's grateful for the recognition, but that any number of his colleagues at the University of Illinois Urbana campus could have received this award.

"I'm not surprised that someone at the University of Illinois got this award," Selen said.  "I'm a little surprised it was me.  It's a very great honor, but any number of people here could have received this award, and it wouldn't have surprised me."

One of Selen's accomplishments cited by the two organizations was his creation of the Physics Van, which gives physics demonstrations to elementary school students in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas.  Selen says it's a program that benefits both the elementary school students, and the U of I undergraduate students who volunteer to conduct the demonstrations.

"They put on assemblies, they show the kids exciting demonstrations," Selen said.  "The kids love it, and as it turns out, the volunteer students love it as well."

The two groups also mentioned Selen's efforts in helping to create the "Physics Made Easy" class for elementary education students, which helps future elementary school teachers teach basic physics concepts in their classrooms. 

Selen was selected as the winner from a group of more than 300 faculty members nationwide nominated by their institution.

He joined the physics faculty in 1993, and became the physics department’s associate head for undergraduate programs in 2014.