University announces 2022 winners of Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards
Now, as a particle physicist who specializes in building instruments to study particles called neutrinos, he volunteers every year to teach the types of introductory classes that changed his own life. Not every student in his classes will throw aside their plans in order to study neutrinos for a living. To foster these realizations, Schmitz makes an effort to show students just how much fundamental physics is all around them—from seeing how Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism explain the workings of an electric motor to looking at the color patterns that are created when oil floats on water in the streets after a rain to understand how light waves interfere.
“Demonstrations and examples are always great,” he said, “and when I can, I try to do it with elements from research or even with things the students might have at home or around them, in addition to specialized demonstration equipment. In doing so, Schmitz seeks to emphasize that the physics problems he asks students to complete are not completely abstract: “They’re not just textbook subjects for the sake of challenging your math skills, though they definitely do that too. “I’m always looking for ways to highlight connections—both the connections between different concepts within physics, as well as between physics and the world around us,” he said.
As a university student in Germany years ago, Matthias Haase learned a valuable lesson he’s carried with him since. Now an assistant professor of philosophy whose research interests span ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of action, and German idealism, Haase still stands firmly by that advice.
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