Gerace, William J.

Emeritus Professor of Physics & Past Director of SRRI
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Prof. Gerace retired from UMass in June 2009, after 30 years of service to the University, the Department of Physics, and SRRI. In August 2009, he accepted a position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as Helena Gabriel Houston Distinguished Professor for Science Education, the first person to hold that endowed chair. He teaches in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Prof. Gerace started his career as a theoretical nuclear physicist. He earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University in Nuclear Theory in 1967, and published 39 refereed articles on the subject. During the 1970s and 80s, physics education research gradually replaced nuclear theory as the focus of his research activities, and he launched the UMass Physics Education Research Group. The group has been continuously funded by research grants since 1976, and has graduated several students with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics Education Research.

Prof. Gerace was also a founding member of the Scientific Reasoning Research Institute (SRRI), an interdisciplinary think tank within the UMass College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. SRRI is dedicated to the learning and teaching of science and mathematics, conducting both research and outreach activities. The institute brings together researchers from the sciences, mathematics, psychology, and education, as well as distinguished foreign visitors. Gerace has served as SRRI's Director since 1991.

Since 1992, Prof. Gerace has worked with educational researchers, teachers, and students in South Africa, Argentina, Cyprus, Uganda, Scotland, Singapore, and Switzerland. During this time he has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Fulbright Senior Specialist, and a Fulbright Conference Speaker, and he has served as a visiting lecturer at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina and the University of Fort Hare in South Africa.

Prof. Gerace likes travel, cooking ethnic food, pets, and - above all - teaching and advising.


  • BS, Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1963.
  • PhD, Theoretical Nuclear Physics, Princeton University, 1967.