Describe your teaching philosophy.
Curiosity, flexibility and enthusiasm are the three most important traits I bring to the classroom. Encouraging curiosity in the topics we discuss is crucial. Science is about asking questions, so I encourage my students to ask questions. I ask them questions. We spend time answering questions. With so many questions being asked, having the flexibility to see where the questions take the class is important. I do this while bringing as much energy and enthusiasm for physics as possible.
Why did you decide to teach at a community college?
I have always wanted to teach since I was very young. When I got my Ph.D., I lost a little bit of the taste for research, so I looked for jobs where teaching was the focus. I taught as an adjunct for three years at Providence College and then as an assistant professor at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Both schools did not require me to do any research. When my wife and I were looking to move to Nebraska, SCC seemed to be a natural fit. I could teach at the level I wanted to teach and focus on the students.
What can prospective students expect when they enroll in your program?
Academic Transfer programs have so much flexibility because you can really tailor what classes you take to focus on your educational wants and needs. It is important to engage with the faculty of your field early in your career so that you can learn as much about your field as possible. They can also help you determine what classes are needed to achieve your goals in the field.
What experiences outside of SCC do you bring to the classroom/laboratory that enhance student learning?
My graduate coursework and research provided both a theoretical and experimental background in physics to be able to answer physics questions. I also had the opportunity to attend a new-faculty workshop put on by the American Association of Physics Teachers, where I was able to learn about modern methods of teaching physics. More recently, I took part in a summer research program where I worked in an engineering lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while creating an activity geared toward our students.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in your program?
Any student going into a program needs to be prepared to fail at something. Maybe it is an exam. Maybe it will be a homework assignment or a presentation. Successful students know how to pick themselves up from those failures and turn it into a learning experience. Or they know how to find the resources to help pull themselves up, including asking for help (one of the most important skills for a student to have). My other piece of advice is to actively and deliberately engage in the field you are choosing. Making a choice to actively participate in your learning is essential to success.
What do you enjoy most about working with students?
I love it when students ask questions, whether the question is on task or not. When a student asks a physics question, it shows that they are engaged in the material and looking for a personal connection to the physics behind their question. I love helping them make that connection.
What is the best part about being an SCC faculty member?
Everyone at SCC has one thing in mind: serving the students the best way possible. The atmosphere created by the administration is one where faculty feel supported to do their best and try new things in the classroom.
What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?
I am most proud when I run into a former student who remembers me or my class fondly. I love learning about what students are doing after they have left my class and what physics they still recall from class.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
I love spending time with my wife and two boys. There are numerous soccer games, scouting events and overall goofiness. I also love juggling, puzzles, cooking (even following the recipe . . . sometimes), and reading books and comic books. I am a member of an improv group in Lincoln and enjoy performing with them from time to time.
What would students be surprised to know about you?
I wanted to be a stand-up comic as a teenager (don’t most teenagers), and my mother always thought I would be successful; but I decided to be more pragmatic and went into teaching. My students will likely say I made the right choice.