Welcome to Physics Education Group at UMass, Amherst

At University of Massachusetts-Amherst, we are interested in developing a complete system for the teaching of P131 and P132: a two-semester introductory physics course for life science students (IPLS). Our complete system involves:

  • A research-based active-learning experience for both semesters:
    • A Team-Based Learning environment for P131
    • A Peer-Instruction based lecture hall for P132
  • Careful consideration of topics tailored to the needs of our students
  • Structural supports including well trained graduate and undergraduate TAs in the classroom

You can see more about each course under the courses tab at the top of the page.

Meet The Team:


Brokk Toggerson

Developer of most course materials for P131, P132, P390T, and the GTA training course.

Heath Hatch

Pioneer in physics TBL at UMass. Typically teaches one to two sections of P131 each semester.

Paul Bourgeois

Director of Physics Teaching Laboratories and P131 instructor. Interested in enhancing and further integrating the laboratory experience within the TBL environment.


Chris Ertl

Chris ErtlOnline course development, M.Ed. Interested in development of P131 and P132 materials, including labs, for online versions of these courses.

David Nguyen

Teaching labs assistant. Helps, among other things, to develop labs for Physics 131 and 132.

Graduate Students:

Cooper Wagner

A third-year Ph.D. at UMass Amherst who works with the ATLAS group. He is currently conducting an independent study project on using natural language processing to parse survey data about how students make connections across the introductory life-science sequence.

Samyukta Krishnamurthy

A  fourth-year Ph.D. at UMass Amherst who works with the ATLAS group.
She is also working with Dr. Toggerson to investigate the impact of team-based learning on student self-efficacy and attitudes.

Undergraduate Students:

Chasya Church – B.S. 2017

Former undergraduate research assistant working on understanding student performance and improving the interface between students and preparatory materials.

Jake Shechter – Ph.D. 2020

Jake ShechterPh.D. student in the Ross Biophysics Lab at UMass Amherst who was involved in developing the Graduate TA Training Seminar and taught Physics 131.

Emily Hansen – B.S. 2020

Physics major currently working on the upcoming Physics 132 textbook and our studies on self-efficacy and attitudes in large-enrollment IPLS studio-style courses.