Tag Archives: Awards

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Raymond Shaw

Raymond ShawThis week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase recipient is Raymond Shaw from the Department of Physics, winner of the 2016 Michigan Tech Research Award. Shaw was selected by College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely precisely because his efforts in the classroom forcefully demonstrate the unity of teaching and research and signal no necessary tension exists between these two core faculty responsibilities.

Seely says “That past fall, the Physics Department honored Ray for the Research Award in the manner it had recognized several other research award recipients — assigning them to teach a large lecture class. In Ray’s case, this was PH 2200, which covered electricity and magnetism for 390 students. He discovered large classes requires ‘one part professor and two parts theater director.’

“Fortunately, he enjoyed significant assistance from a demo crew that prepared attention-grabbing experiments suitable for classroom use, a dedicated assistant who managed iClicker content and online homework systems, the office staff that printed and organized 400 exam booklets every few weeks, and the physics learning center coaches who assisted students with homework and exams.

“At the end of the term, student evaluations ranked the class at 4.36 on the seven dimensions reported on the  evaluation form. This is a very good score for a large introductory class.

“Ray identified several keys to this success, including support from Physics faculty, John Jaszczak, Wil Slough, and Bob Weidman, with extensive experience in large-lecture sections, who shared lecture materials and staging tips, and provided occasional pep talks. In addition, help from the testing center and IT staff members further confirmed that such courses are taught by a team, not just a professor.

“When asked about his contributions to making this class work, Ray noted that because  big classes can seem impersonal, he ‘took it as a challenge to let my students get to know me as a person.’

“He spiced up lectures with personal anecdotes related to the course, like his rapidly-flashing blinker (RC time constants) or electromagnetic phenomena in his research. Other times he used more random elements related to life in general. He once asked students to provide iClicker responses on possible ways of disciplining his son for breaking the TV. (Corporal punishment won, but he did not take that advice) His point — students respond when taught by faculty who are real people and who care about them. As one student commented, ‘Every class was enjoyable due to the somewhat ‘nerdy’ humor followed by funny references to his son (absolutely hysterical).’

“But perhaps as important was Ray’s enthusiasm for the class. Students clearly recognized his passion and excitement about physics. One student said, ‘Your enthusiasm for Physics is inspiring. It makes the lectures much more enjoyable.’  Another added, ‘Your enthusiasm was great. You were always passionate and in a good mood.’

“This might not seem like rocket science, but teaching seems to work better in environments where faculty exhibit their enthusiasm about their field and show how they care about students and their learning.”

Shaw will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

2012 Finishing Fellowship Recipients

Physics graduate student Xiaoliang Zhong and Engineering Physics graduate student Pradeep Kumar have been offered Finishing Fellowships from the Michigan Tech Graduate School. The fellowships provide support to PhD candidates who are close to completing their degrees. It is based on a student’s research, publication record, and contribution to the mission of Michigan Tech. Zhong works with Ravi Pandey in the Computational Solid State Theory and Materials Science group. Kumar is part of Miguel Levy’s research group.

NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

Congratulations to physics graduate student Matt Beals on receiving a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. This prestigious award recognizes Beal’s achievements as well as the research performed using the HOLODEC detector. His proposal was entitled “Improved Mixed Phase Cloud Microstructure Measurements: The Holographic Detector for Clouds II (HOLODEC II).” The proposal basically outlined further characterization of the instrument and analysis of data from the flights the research team was involved with last fall at NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Matt Beals is part of the Cloud Physics Laboratory, coordinated by Dr. Raymond Shaw.

Cantrell, Woods Receive Distinguished Teaching Awards

“Office hours” are an elastic concept for Michigan Tech’s 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award winners. “His office is always open,” says physics department chair Ravi Pandey of Will Cantrell, associate professor of physics, who received the award in the professor/associate professor category. “I’ve seen him here on Saturday and Sunday working with students.” Cantrell came to Michigan Tech in 2001, after serving as a postdoc in chemistry at Indiana University and completing his PhD at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Pandey called Cantrell “a superlative model of the scholar-teacher.” READ MORE

Physics Department Poster Session Awards 2012

The Department of Physics is pleased to announce the best oral and poster presentations by physics graduate students during the Physics Colloquium poster session held on April 19, 2012, in the Aftermath Atrium in Fisher Hall. There were two similarly rated best oral presentations: “Conduction Amongst Mesoscopic Particles” by Douglas Banyai and “Calibrating a Gamma-Ray Observatory” by Nathan Kelley-Hoskins. There were also two similarly rated best poster presentations: “Individual Particle Analysis of Carbonaceous Aerosols Emitted from the Las Conchas Wildfire, Los Alamos, NM” by Swarup China and “Exploring Cloud Microstructure with the HOLODEC I” by Matthew Beals. The presentations were evaluated by the physics graduate students and ranked in order of preference. The winners will receive a small monetary award.

Nemiroff Honored for Astrophysics Research

The University is recognizing two faculty members with the 2012 Research Award, Robert Nemiroff and Andrew Storer. In nominating Nemiroff, physics professor Don Beck and Ravindra Pandey, chair of the physics department, cited his research based on gravitational lensing, noting that his groundbreaking predictions regarding binary stars, quasars and microlensing events (which give insight into stellar distributions and dark matter) have been proved correct. In another project, Nemiroff and his graduate students searched gamma-ray bursts to find “echoes” caused by the gravitational lens effect of dark matter. READ MORE