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Outstanding Faculty Awards

William Hughes

Professor of Physics
James Madison University

William Christopher Hughes is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at James Madison University where he has served as a faculty member since 1997.

His scholarly work is in materials physics with a specific interest in polymer surface science and micro fabrication. This work facilitates that development of microfluidic devices that could be used for bioanalytical and neuroscience research. Along the way, this research has led to a new understanding of the interactions between noble metals and certain polymer surfaces.

Dr. Hughes has also worked throughout his career at JMU to promote and improved the education of undergraduate students through integrating engaged learning practices in multiple ways. This includes a strong commitment to undergraduate research programs for physics, chemistry and other science majors. In his years at JMU he has mentored over 70 students in the research laboratory many of whom have presented their research at regional and national meetings. Dr. Hughes also helped introduce active learning practices into the physics curriculum both for majors and non-majors by piloting the department's attempts to adopt a new hybrid model of teaching in these courses using techniques proven to be effective at other institutions through education research.

Dr. Hughes has served as the director of the JMU Center for Materials Science, a portion from which he has been able to support colleagues and students who are interested in interdisciplinary work across the sciences and engineering. He has been active nationallywith the Council on Undergraduate Research to promote the undergraduate research enterprise nationally. He served for two years on the executive board of CUR and as chair of the physics and astronomy division. Dr. Hughes has been awarded each of the three highest awards for faculty at JMU for scholarship, teaching and service to the community: the Madison Scholar award in 2015, the Outstanding Teaching award in 2008 and the Distinguished Service award in 2012.

Dr. Hughes is a native Kentuckian who received his B.S. from Davidson College and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed post-doctoral work at North Carolina State University. He lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, Mary Golden-Hughes, two daughters and son.

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William Hughes

"One of my passions has been in breaking down the boundaries between non-science students and the physical sciences. Ill speak on the physics of dance and the physics of baseball from local high schools to the Kennedy Center."