Teaching, Education and Outreach
Why I Became a University Professor
I chose to be a University Professor, as opposed to a laboratory scientist, for two main reasons. One, I would always be in touch with young students who can challenge me and propel me to be continuously at par with times, as I passionately teach them physics/science, both pedagogically and research wise. Second, the autonomy of conducting my research is most conducive in a university setting. While discharging my full teaching responsibilities, I have maintained a fully funded research program in high energy physics, for which I was hired to establish at PNW in 2005.
I continue to provide our students with a contemporary exposure to wide range of scientific opportunities in the field of high energy physics, in particular and science, in general. I achieve this objective through my teaching, research, and education/outreach service activities to the university and the community in our region.
My Teaching Philosophy
Many undergraduate programs require students to take a number of physics courses. Indeed, most of the students that a Physics Department teaches have other majors too, such as life sciences, occupational therapy, engineering, computational physics, etc. Most of these students see physics as a difficult subject of little relevance to their career objectives. Looking for a way to pass the required courses, they develop a plug-and-chug approach to get by without developing any deep understanding of the subject matter. A thorough understanding of fundamental concepts of physics is lacking, due to which the students have relatively lower retention of the subject. These students thus develop a significant handicap – perhaps even a fear of the study material – that will undoubtedly limit their potential for job-performance and growth in the workplace. Further, we fail in our goal to make a technologically literate society. Thus, the challenge is to make physics learning an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
In the absence of a graduate program in physics, my particular emphasis is to invigorate the teaching of the elementary physics courses for undergraduate students in our department. I emphasize on two main themes
- Keeping the student interested and engaged in the lecture discussion.
- Providing practical experience.
I have successfully and effectively taught a wide variety of courses and have very high teaching evaluations from the students and peer-reviews. Additionally, I have contributed to the physics course curriculum development and physics undergraduate laboratories experiments. I have also introduced and added to the physics program an education and outreach agenda, conducted via the PNW QuarkNet Center, which I lead. This highly successful center is federally funded to support high school teachers and students that I hire every year from Northwest Indiana to get trained in the pedagogy of particle physics learning.