Beth Parks


Beth Parks teaches physics at Colgate University and also serves as the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physics.  

She was born and raised in Huntsville, AL (aka the Rocket City), a town that produced many more than its share of physicists.  After completing an undergraduate degree at Princeton University, she taught high school chemistry for a year in the Boston area.  She received a PhD from UC Berkeley and did post-doctoral research at MIT before arriving at Colgate in 1997.

Her teaching includes courses across the physics curriculum and also a course for non-majors titled Energy and Sustainability.   She has taught extensively in the introductory course for majors, Atoms and Waves, working to improve equity for students through helping students work collaboratively and providing a path to continue in physics for students who are still in the process of gaining the skills necessary to succeed.

She has twice led semester-long study abroad trips to Cardiff, Wales, and also twice led three-week trips to teach students about renewable energy and carbon mitigation in Norway.  In 2015-16, she served as a Fulbright scholar at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda, and maintains a research collaboration with scholars there measuring particulate pollution.  Her other research ranges from terahertz spectroscopy of condensed matter systems (single-molecule magnets and carbon nanotubes) to developing a tool that homeowners can use to measure their home’s insulation.  

She has written about the challenges faced by women during the 19th and 20th century (“Why Aren’t More Theories Named After Women? Teaching Women’s History in Physics”) and is also keenly aware of the challenges facing women scientists now, having had two children in graduate school and raised them while establishing a career in physics.