September 2018: Michelle Kuchera
Davidson College, Davidson, NC
- Member since 2000
- Computational Physicist
- Davidson, NC
I became interested in physics through my high school physics teacher, Mr. Carney. He infused our course material with modern physics topics such as nanotechnology and relativity which fascinated me. While a graduate student, I had the opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant in the newly designed studio-style introductory physics classes at Florida State University, which ignited my interest in pedagogy. However, it wasn’t until I was a postdoc and NOT teaching that I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in the classroom while remaining active in research.
I joined AAPT when I arrived at Davidson College. Davidson’s physics department enthusiastically encourages their faculty to improve their teaching and keep up with physics education research. AAPT has connected me with faculty across the country who are passionate about improving their teaching in the classroom. Members who encourage others to try something new and experimental have inspired me to take action on my ideas. Encouragement from outside faculty is what spurred me to pursue the academic activities that I found the most rewarding: participating in the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, starting the Davidson College Hackathon, and organizing a Summer Computational CoWork.
I am passionate about the integration of computation in physics education. Problem solving is now done using computers, from cutting-edge physics research to corporate applications. Computational problem solving is a skill that can instruct students in the classroom as well as prepare them for the future. I was excited to find the Partnership for Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics (PICUP) through AAPT. PICUP connected me with a community of faculty that I can exchange ideas and materials relating to computation in the physics classroom. I look forward to connecting with more physics faculty through AAPT and exchanging more ideas to become a better teacher every year.