TEACHING

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."  - Plutarch

My teaching has been described in an article on my research group and me in The Sacramento Bee.

 

I enjoy teaching at a variety of levels, from courses for non-science majors to supervising the research of graduate students and postdocs, for several reasons:

1) I have learned a lot of really cool physics because I needed to be able to explain it to a bunch of students. There is perhaps no better discipline for learning, than having to teach.

2) Teaching is an interesting intellectual challenge. It is nothing less than minimally-invasive brain restructuring. Providing clear explanations is helpful, but very far from sufficient. I view my job as mainly to inspire and to help the student find the appropriate fuel (to continue Plutarch's metaphor). I also listen to the student to figure out exactly what type of Socratic question will shift the student's understanding in the right way. 

3) Teaching is rewarding. It is a privilege to share the subject I love, and to see students move from confusion to understanding and appreciation. Our alumni consistently feel their education has been of great value to them, which is quite rewarding as well.

Classes at UC Davis

From the general education course, Astro10G, in Spring 2009. One of the students recorded this performance and posted it to Youtube. 

"If you allow the educational process to self-organize, then learning emerges."  - Sugata Mitra

Classical Mechanics: I have taught this first-year graduate course every fall quarter from 2006 to 2015.

 

Classical Electrodynamics: I taught the second quarter of a two-quarter first-year graduate course in Spring 2015

 

Cosmology: I taught this upper division undergraduate course in Winter 2013 and Winter 2015.

 

Additional courses: Astro 10, Physics 7B, ... [incomplete list]

 

"Education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world."  

           - Nelson Mandela

"We have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned."  - Angela Lee Duckworth