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 UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

March 7, 2007
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations (218) 726-8830
Barbara Gundersen, UMD Human Resources (218) 726-8297,

UMD Student Employee of the Year
Named Minnesota Student Employee of the Year

Student Work Helps Create Large Increase
in Alworth Planetarium Program Attendance

UMD Student Employee of the Year, Derric Johnson, has been named Student Employee of the Year for the State of Minnesota. Announcement of the state award was made March 8 by the National Association of Student Employment Administrators (NASEA), the organizing body. Johnson's nomination will be submitted for further consideration at the regional level. If successful, it will then move on to the national category.

Derric Johnson.

Derric Johnson is a senior in the College of Science and Engineering, majoring in physics and science education. He was cited for his outstanding work with the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium.

Johnson has worked with the Alworth Planetarium since 2005. In that time he has developed the Planetarium's weekly evening programs and has created unique astronomy shows for elementary school children and the general public. He has led the programs by drawing on his extensive knowledge of physics and astronomy as well as his ability to successfully communicate complex topics to an audience.

His interesting programs have helped to raise attendance at the Planetarium to over 7,400 visitors per year -the highest in ten years. Johnson's most popular shows at the Planetarium include:

  • "Trans-Neptunian Objects - a Tale of What Lies Beyond the Orbit of Neptune"
  • "The Universe in 30 Minutes - a Tour of the Universe from Galaxies to Black Holes, to Star Birth in Gaseous Nebulae"
  • "From Newton to Hawking - a Summary of the Contributions of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking"

In addition, Johnson has worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant and research assistant in the UMD Department of Physics. He has also served as an undergraduate research assistant at the UMD Large Lakes Observatory (LLO).

The first runner-up for the UMD Student Employee of the Year award was Carly Moritz from the UMD Department of Composition. Tied for the Second Runner Up were, Meghan Keil from the UMD Career Services and Phong Yang from the UMD Library.

The "Student Employee of the Year" award is a program developed by the National Association of Student Employment Administrators (NASEA), to offer employers the opportunity to acknowledge outstanding student employees for the valuable contributions they make to their office or department.

UMD participated in the Student Employee of the Year Program for the first time in the 1997-98 school year. Since then UMD has had several students go on to win state, regional, and national "Student Employee of the Year" titles.

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