Office: RH 306B
I believe students can learn anything they put their minds to.
What area do you teach?
Physics, Physics education
Ph.D. Molecular Science Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, May 1994
M.S. Physics Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, May 1989
B.S. Physics College of William and Mary, August 1976
Your philosophy of teaching:
I believe students can learn anything they put their minds to. You see this often in small children, for example, in memorizing all the Pokemons and what they morph into, or learning the baseball players on a team and all their stats. The trick to teaching is to get the students to want to learn and practice the concepts and skills of the course. In general, the more ways students can visualize the concepts, and the more connections they can make with things they already know and understand, the deeper understanding they will attain. Teaching and learning are active and social processes, so our ways of presenting the material to the students must allow for this. Though the traditional lecture method is the most efficient way to communicate large amounts of information, this is often ineffective unless it is supplemented with active learning strategies, such as demonstrations, minute papers, or think-pair-share. Even large lectures need to be more student centered. I have often told my students it would be much easier if I could just unzip their foreheads, stuff all the info I want them to know in, and the zip it back up. However, everything that students learn is really the result of their own hard work. Teachers simply organize the material so that students know what is important.
Why did you decide to teach?
Teaching was a natural outgrowth of my desire to share my love of physics with others. Physics is the fundamental science, upon which all others are based. When you ask questions about the way the world works, it is the underlying rules of nature, the physical laws, which constrain what is possible. There are many urgent problems in the world today, and our students will be the ones to address and solve them. They cannot act wisely and with confidence unless they have some understanding of science and technology. I truly love seeing students realize what they are capable of.
As an undergraduate I was not a stellar student, I was too busy growing up and learning to function independently as an adult. When I received my undergraduate BS in Physics from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, I realized that my background was not strong enough to go on to graduate school. I also knew I loved solving problems and working with others, so I went back to school and earned a teaching degree in physics and physical science. I went on to teach physics and physical science first at a college preparatory high school in Virginia. Then, my husband and I moved to University City, Missouri, where I taught 5 classes per day, each with 28 to 34 students, of 8th grade Physical Science. This was the biggest challenge of my life. I had students from a variety of socioeconomic groups, about 90% were minority students, and their reading levels varied from 3rd to 12th grade, all in one class! This was the first time I had been the minority. I was very unhappy and frustrated my first year, but my peer teachers and the administration believed in me, and helped me learn how to teach effectively. After that first year I loved the students and felt like I was making a difference in their lives. However, since my passion has always been physics, I found a job in Kirkwood Missouri teaching physics at an all-boys Catholic high school, another distinct cultural experience. When my husband took a job here at Southeast, I went back to school and earned a Master’s in Physics and then my PhD in Molecular Science (Physics) at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where I did research in novel magnetic materials. After graduation I taught for a while at SIU, then obtained a tenure track position at the University of Northern Iowa. But, since my husband and I were unable to get dual appointments there, he returned to SEMO. I worked there another year then gave up my lab and position to return and work for my former PhD advisor as a postdoc. Luckily, the next year a position in the Physics and Engineering Physics Department opened up here, and I have taught here since the fall of 2000.
Lead volunteer for the Citizen CATE Team-040 in Perryville, MO, that observed as one of the 68 sites across the US that took photographs of the solar corona for the National Solar Observatory during the 2017 total solar eclipse.
1992 SIUC Doctoral Student Woman of Distinction
College of Science, Technology, and Agriculture Service Award 2013-2014
Annual Alumni Association Faculty Merit Award, 2018
Organization with which you are involved
American Association of Physics Teachers (Chair, Committee on Women in Physics (2005-2007))
Missouri Association of Physics Teachers (President 2015-2016)
Association for Women in Science
American Physical Society
SDE/Graduate Women in Science
Most Recent/Notable Published Work
Anil Aryal, Abdiel Quetz, Sudip Pandey, Tapas Samanta, Igor Dubenko, Margaret Hill, Dipanjan Mazumdar, Shane Stadler, Naushad Ali, “Magnetostructural Phase Transitions and Magnetocaloric Effects in Mn1-xAlxCoGe Compounds”, J. Alloys and Comp., 709 (2017)
Best advice for students
Whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart!
Believe in yourself, we do!
Choose your own measure of success, don’t blindly chase those standards set by others.
Take care of yourself first, then your studies; we will need you and your skills in the future.
College is a place to grow and mature. If you fail at something (and we all have!), learn from it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go at it again.
If you need help with anything, please ask. We’re here to help. You’ll have plenty of chances in the future to pay it forward.