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Eric Mazur      

Physicist & Educator at Harvard; Entrepreneur in Technology Start-Ups for the Educational and Photonics Markets

Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Area Chair of Applied Physics at Harvard University, Member of the Faculty of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Past President of the Optical Society. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics in the Physics Department at Harvard University. Mazur founded several companies and plays an active role in industry.

Dr. Mazur came to Harvard University in 1982 after obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. In 1984 he joined the faculty and obtained tenure six years later. Dr. Mazur has made important contributions to spectroscopy, light scattering, the interaction of ultrashort laser pulses with materials, and nanophotonics. Dr. Mazur holds Honorary Doctorates from the Ecole Polytechnique and the University of Montreal, Universidad Nacional Mayor San Marcos, Lima, Peru, and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. He holds Honorary Professorships from Beijing University of Technology, Beijing Normal University, Sichuan University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and the Institute of Semiconductor Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Eric Mazur has received numerous awards, including the Esther Hoffman Beller award from the Optical Society of America and the Millikan Medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers. In 2014 Mazur became the inaugural recipient of the Minerva Prize for Advancements in Higher Education. He is Fellow of the Optical Society, of the American Physical Society, and of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is a Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands and a Member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. He has held appointments as Visiting Professor or Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Leuven in Belgium, National Taiwan University in Taiwan, Carnegie Mellon University, and Hong Kong University.

Dr. Mazur has served on numerous committees and councils, including advisory and visiting committees for the National Science Foundation, and has chaired and organized national and international scientific conferences. He serves as consultant to industry in the electronics and telecommunications industry. In 2006 he founded SiOnyx, a company that is commercializing black silicon, a new form of silicon developed in Mazur's laboratory. Mazur is currently Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for SiOnyx. In 2011 he founded Learning Catalytics, a company that uses data analytics to improve learning in the classroom. In 2013 the company was acquired by Pearson. Mazur is Chief Academic Advisor for Turning Technologies and serves on the Scientific Advisory Panel for Allied Minds, a pre-seed investment company creating partnerships with key universities to fund corporate spin-outs in early stage technology companies.

In addition to his work in optical physics, Mazur has been very active in education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction, a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. He is the author of “Peer Instruction: A User's Manual” (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. In 2006 he helped produce the award-winning DVD “Interactive Teaching.” Dr. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many disciplines.

Dr. Mazur is author or co-author of 380 scientific publications, 52 patents, and several books, including the “Principles and Practice of Physics” (Pearson, 2014), a book that presents a groundbreaking new approach to teaching introductory calculus-based physics. Mazur is a sought-after speaker on optics and on education.

Speech Topics

Getting Every Student Ready for Every Class

1-Hour Discussion Sessions Over the past decades there has been a concerted push away from passive lecturing to active engagement in the classroom. A successful implementation of the so-called flipped classroom requires students to come to class prepared, either by reading the textbook or watching a pre-recorded video. A variety approaches have been devised to get students to take responsibility for this information transfer, but none manage to get all students to participate, compromising active-learning in the classroom. I will present a new approach to get every student to prepare for every class using a new social learning platform that uses a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors to get every student ready for every class

Innovating Education to Educate Innovators OR Teaching One-on-One, All at Once: Turning lectures into learning

Educators want to prepare students for the 21st century, yet our educational approaches have evolved little over hundreds of years of academic teaching. I will demonstrate how active engagement stimulates both higher-order thinking and motivation to learn.

Confessions of a converted lecturer

I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly

Educating the Innovators of the 21st Century

Can we teach innovation? Innovation requires whole-brain thinking — right-brain thinking for creativity and imagination, and left-brain thinking for planning and execution. Our current approach to education in science and technology, focuses on the transfer of information, developing mostly right-brain thinking by stressing copying and reproducing existing ideas rather than generating new ones. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to team work and creative thinking greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom and promotes independent thinking.

Assessment: The silent killer of learning

Why is it that stellar students sometimes fail in the workplace while dropouts succeed? One reason is that most, if not all, of our current assessment practices are inauthentic. Just as the lecture focuses on the delivery of information to students, so does assessment often focus on having students regurgitate that same information back to the instructor. Consequently, assessment fails to focus on the skills that are relevant in life in the 21st century. Assessment has been called the "hidden curriculum" as it is an important driver of students' study habits. Unless we rethink our approach to assessment, it will be very difficult to produce a meaningful change in education.


Education Giant Pearson Continues Digital Push, Acquires Flipped ...
Furthermore, co-founder Brian Lukoff accepted a new position at Pearson, while Gary King and Eric Mazur (both currently professors at Harvard), were offered ...

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