Washington Lee High School
Kate Miller got involved in gymnastics at a very young age. As her skill developed, her love of the sport grew. It wasn’t until a high school physics class that Kate became truly interested in an academic subject. She soon found a common denominator between her two passions: “physics explained the ‘why’ and the ‘how’; most importantly, I could begin to understand why gymnastics made sense.” Kate’s high school physics teacher encouraged her to continue exploring physics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (UM) and served as her initial inspiration to pursue a teaching career.
In college, Kate worked on an academic coaching project with the UM introductory physics students and was president of the UM Society of Women in Physics. Her favorite moment came when she helped host a ‘physics day’ for two local Girl Scout groups of 5th and 6th graders. “The response was overwhelming – the girls said ‘I love physics,’ ‘I want to be a physicist when I grow up.’”
At UM, Kate also became interested in physics education research, writing an honors senior thesis exploring the gender gap in UM introductory physics courses. The recipient of the UM Physics Department’s Wirt and Mary Cornwell Prize, Kate looks forward to “conveying physics to my students in a way that would reignite their innate curiosity about seemingly mundane events.” Gymnastics continues to play an important part in Kate’s life: she competed through college and attended Nationals four times. “Nearly 20 years after I started gymnastics, I’m still passionate about the sport.”