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Alumni spotlight: Earl Blodgett

March 21, 2017

Advising a student organization on campus is easier done when one has a sense of what it is like to be part of that organization, and that is exactly what one UW-River Falls alumnus has done.

Earl Blodgett is currently a physics professor at UWRF, teaching courses ranging from calculus-based physics to data analysis classes. He also currently is a part of the steering committee for the STEMteach program, a graduate program that allows math and science students to become licensed as teachers within a year. He has worked at the university since 1986.

Bloggett comes from a long line of alumni who have also attended UWRF. His mother attended the university back in 1946. Shortly after Blodgett was born, his mother returned to school at UWRF in 1960. Later on, his older brother and sister would both attend the school as well.

It was at an early age that Blodgett said he became interested in attending River Falls, so young that he wasn’t even eligible for preschool.

“I remember when I was 3 years old,” Blodgett said, “that I proclaimed that I would attend River Falls, minus all of the school in between.”

He eventually followed in the footsteps of his sister by studying math and physics.

Blodgett was also a member of the Society of Physics Students (SPS). He took on different roles within the club, including secretary and president of the organization. Today, he currently is the advisor for the club, and has also served as the historian for the Society of Physics Students National Council.

Blodgett participated in cross country and track and was awarded letters for cross country in the fall of 1976 and for track in the spring of 1977.  He lettered in both sports all four years and was co-captain of the cross country team during his senior year in the fall of 1979.

While double majoring in math and physics, Blodgett said that his participation in sports helped him learn how to organize his time, which allowed him to do other things around campus.

“Being a student athlete was an important part of my experience at UWRF,” he recalled. “It made me be very efficient in my use of time. I still found time to be active in SPS, act in a play, fall in love and get married before my senior year.”

After graduating in 1980, Blodgett went on to study at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Although he initially wanted to work in research, he soon found his passion for teaching when his advisor, Jim Miller, allowed him to substitute teach for some of his classes.

After he graduated with his Ph.D., Blodgett was given the option to either become a research professor or an instructor. Ironically, the teaching position led him back to River Falls. He has worked there ever since.

Blodgett said he finds that UWRF’s faculty is one of the key things that makes the university what it is, citing that the school always looks for instructors that aren’t “boring” or “annoyed by their students.” Finding good faculty that can teach well, as well as keeping classes small, makes the school better for students who attend.

“I think that UWRF is a special place because of the people,” he explained. “We try very hard to hire faculty and staff that care about our students and enjoy interacting with our students.”

The family lineage of attending UWRF has not stopped since Blodgett started school, as both of his daughters have also attended the university. His role in the Physics Department is crucial, now advising the student organization he once was part of as a student. He even still participates in athletics on campus, representing UWRF as a faculty athletic representative in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

Blodgett’s advice to students is to manage their time spent on campus, highlighting the importance of good grades as well as creating connections.

“While it’s important to get good grades,” he said, “you should always find times to create relationships, not just momentarily, but for your entire time here at River Falls.”