Price, Physics Students Teach Writing
Workshops at Harvard University
Price, graduate physics students Louis Dartez and Alex Garcia
and undergraduate physics major Albert Mata, all of Brownsville,
worked with physics students from Harvard University on writing skills the week
of Monday, March 11.
right) UTB and TSC’s Albert Mata, Louis Dartez, Dr. Richard Price of the
Department of Physics and Astronomy and Alex Garcia worked with students at
Harvard University during writing workshops in mid-March.
Harvard students learned during single two-hour workshops about writing
flow, clarity and word selection.
“More than an hour went into participant writing exercises,” said
Price. “In one exercise the students had to take a complex subject and explain
it with only two sentences and no semicolons.”
The final task in the workshops was for participants to use critical
thinking to write a paragraph. Price asked environmental students to write on
the timeliness of implementing carbon emissions limits and medical students were
asked to write about the collaboration between medical device companies and
“I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do,” said Price.
“Also, Harvard learned a lot about how to use this kind of writing workshop.
We’ve just begun to think about what to do next.”
One of the workshop participants has a Brownsville
Rodrigo Leal, 18, a Harvard freshman majoring in earth and planetary
sciences, was born and raised in the city’s Southmost area. He learned about
Price’s workshops through Harvard faculty members.
“His workshop helped me identify the common mistakes that people make
when writing scientific literature, which in turn has helped me clean up these
mistakes in my own writing,” said Leal. “At the time I was writing a research
proposal for summer funding, so the skills I learned during Dr. Price’s workshop
were extremely helpful in editing my research proposal. I am very grateful that
Dr. Price was able to share his writing knowledge with me because I know that
these writing skills will be essential as my collegiate career progresses into
my professional career.”
Leal did not know Price or the physics students before the workshops
but was able to have breakfast with them.
“It’s always great to get to talk to people who are from Brownsville
since there aren’t very many of us here in the Boston area,” said Leal. “We
talked about things ranging from science at Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts
Institute of Technology) to the best taco places in Boston to how it’s like
during the winter in Brownsville vs. Boston.”
Price’s students also liked the teaching and learning
“I enjoyed touring the campus and meeting students the most,” said
Mata, 20, a junior physics major and Hanna High School graduate from
Brownsville. “The campus was breathtaking to say the least and by meeting
students and hearing about their interests I was able to gauge what it takes to
succeed at Harvard. Technical writing in science is a vital skill every
scientist should master.”
Price has been an invited speaker and presenter at the 21st Midwest
Relativity Meeting, Nanjing University in China, the Pacific Coast Gravity
Conference, the Gulf Coast Gravity Meeting and the University of Utah
Science-Math Education Task Force.
Before arriving at the university, Price spent three decades teaching
at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Price received a bachelor’s degree
in engineering physics in 1965 from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He wrote
the thesis “Nonspherical Perturbations of Relativistic Gravitational Collapse”
to earn a doctoral degree in 1971 from California Institute of Technology in