Texas A&M physicist Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova is one of three university faculty members who have been appointed to 2021 University Professorships in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (UPUTE) at Texas A&M University.
Erukhimova, an instructional professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will hold one of two Eppright Professorships in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, a three-year appointment that carries an annual salary supplement of $5,000 provided by the university and an annual $5,000 discretionary income to support her teaching program and related professional development.
Erukhimova and her fellow 2021-2024 UPUTE honorees, Texas A&M economics professor and 2021-2024 Eppright Professor Dr. Jonathan Meer and Texas A&M educational psychology professor and 2021-2024 Thaman Professor Dr. Robert “Jay” Woodward, were formally recognized today (Apr. 30) during the opening session of the 2021 Transformational Teaching and Learning Conference, presented virtually by the Office of the Dean of Faculties in partnership with the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office for Academic Innovation.
The prestigious UPUTE awards are reserved for the university’s most distinguished teachers of undergraduates — faculty who have exhibited uncommon excellence and devotion to the education of undergraduate students at Texas A&M. The professorships are made possible through generous endowments by George and Irma Eppright and Arthur J. and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman.
“Texas A&M is known for its excellence in undergraduate education, and appointment of these professorship holders is intended to both recognize and support that dedication to undergraduate education,” said Texas A&M Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Mark H. Weichold ’78.
Erukhimova, a faculty member and outreach coordinator in the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy since 2006, earned her Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999. For the past decade and a half, she has excelled in teaching large introductory physics classes, combining high expectations with devoted support to transform the relationship her students have with physics. She is passionate about reaching every student in keeping with her classroom motto: “No student is left behind.” She is also known for involving undergraduate and graduate students in physics education research.
In the process of instilling confidence while also blending fundamental physics concepts with an atmosphere of excitement and fun, Erukhimova has helped countless students see physics in their every day and understand not only its relevance but also its appeal. She is revered by her students and colleagues alike for her skilled use of innovative teaching techniques that reinforce active learning. Although Erukhimova does not enforce attendance, which she views as a referendum on her performance, it is never below 80 percent and often includes students from other instructors’ courses who opt to sit in for her lectures.
“Dr. Erukhimova is an embodiment of an ideal undergraduate instructor — dedicated and caring to a fault, passionate to the extreme and effective at the miraculous level,” said Dr. Grigory V. Rogachev, professor and head of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy. “She is a legend among students, many of whom say that her class was their best experience at Texas A&M and the best class they have taken in all their years of study.”
To ensure that students of all backgrounds and learning styles have enough resources to succeed, Erukhimova has created several free supplemental resources available to all students enrolled in introductory calculus-based physics courses. To date, she has recorded more than 50 problem-solving videos for PHYS 207 that have been viewed by students in excess of 56,000 times after only two in-sequence semesters. As an additional resource, she posted online all mid-term and final exams for the past 15 years.
Erukhimova was honored in 2017 as a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, a perpetual title representing Texas A&M’s highest honor for classroom performance. In 2018, she also served as a plenary presenter for Texas A&M’s inaugural two-day Transformational Teaching and Learning Conference. Earlier this spring, she earned selection as one of 10 recipients of the 2021 Provost Academic Professional Track (APT) Faculty Teaching Excellence Award honoring exceptional classroom teaching that fosters meaningful learning experiences. A four-time Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award recipient — three for teaching and one for extension and outreach — Erukhimova has received the John E. Trott Jr. Award in Student Recruiting and the Sigma Xi Outstanding Science Communicator Award and also served as chair of the American Association of Physics Teachers Committee on Science Education for the Public in 2020. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2019.
Erukhimova’s passion for inspiring learning through science has motivated the creation of several innovative programs at Texas A&M that integrate education with science outreach and community service, including DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering), the Texas A&M Physics Show, Just Add Science and Real Physics Live. She is a co-organizer of the annual Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP), a two-week summer professional development enrichment for physics teachers from Texas high schools. In addition, Erukhimova coordinates the annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival that attracts several thousand visitors to campus each spring.
Erukhimova completed postdoctoral studies and served four years as an assistant research scientist in the Texas A&M Department of Atmospheric Sciences from 2002 to 2006 prior to joining the Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy faculty. She is a co-author along with Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Dr. Gerald R. North of the textbook Atmospheric Thermodynamics, published by Cambridge University Press (2009).
Erukhimova plans to use her UPUTE professorship funding to develop videos and online materials to help students enrolled in and graduate students helping to teach large introductory physics classes, as well as to create instructional materials aimed at professional development for both teaching assistants and early career faculty. In addition, she hopes to provide additional physics education research opportunities for undergraduate students while also studying the impact of science classes on non-science majors and their attitudes about science, overcoming related stereotypes and building STEM identity within underrepresented groups.
To learn more about Erukhimova and her teaching, research and service efforts, visit https://physics.tamu.edu/people/etanya/.
For additional information on University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching, go to the Dean of Faculties website.