LSU Graduate Receives Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship

Photo: zachary edwards

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has announced the selection of WW Georgia Teaching Fellows for 2016. Among them is Louisiana State University 2016 M.S. graduate Zachary Edwards. The highly competitive program recruits both recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math - the STEM fields - and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools.

A native of White Oak, GA, Edwards received his B.S. in 2012 from Columbus State University in earth and space science. While pursuing his M.S. in physics at LSU, Edwards served as a teaching assistant, instructor, tutor, researcher, and conducted multiple outreach events to educate and inspire children in astronomy.         

“At LSU, I taught solar system laboratory classes for three years, while conducting various educational programs with the Landolt Observatory, and fell in love with teaching,” Edwards said. “Teaching the labs as well as helping with school tours definitely made me realize my love and passion for teaching, and my desire to pursue it full time!”

Each Fellow receives a stipend to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master’s degree program based on a year-long classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural Georgia schools that most need strong STEM teachers. Throughout the three-year commitment, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.

“Zach has always had great patience and understanding with helping LSU students while serving as a teaching assistant at LSU,” said Professor Bradley Schaefer, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy. 

Sixty individuals will be part of the second cohort of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program in the state, which will be offered at Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University, and Piedmont College during the 2016-17 academic year.

At LSU, Edwards’s proposal, with his advisor Dr. Brad Schaefer and fellow graduate student Zhichao Xue, for observing time with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was accepted by HST. "The Stingray Nebula" provides the unique opportunity to watch the ionization of a Planetary Nebula, a helium shell flash, and the evolution of the central star. This system has been evolving 'startlingly' fast, and has not been imaged for over 15 years.

“Even as a summer Research Experience for Undergraduate student at LSU, Zach conducted research on a fore-front astronomy controversy, and came up with a decisive new result,” said Schaefer.  “Zach was the first author of the paper that appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. It is unheard of for any undergraduate to be first author on an ApJLett, much less one that ensued in press conferences. The result was that he used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to prove that a particular supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud did not leave behind any bright companion star, and this has disproven several prominent ideas, at least for this one supernova.”

About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation ( identifies and develops the nation’s best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society.




Mimi LaValle
LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy