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Price, Physics Students Teach Writing Workshops at Harvard University 
 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – APRIL 4, 2013 – A faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and three physics students at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College recently spent part of their Spring Break teaching at Harvard University.
 
Dr. Richard 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
 
Dr. Price and physics students(Left to 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 expert practitioners. 
 
“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 connection.
 
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 experience.
 
“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 Pasadena, Calif.
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