Danielle McDermott, PhD
At Pacific University, all faculty teach a variety of different courses. Typically, we do not use graduate teaching assistants, which means that your classes will be taught by professors and that you will have plenty of opportunities to get to know the faculty in your discipline.
Below I have listed some of the courses that I teach. We are always developing and trying out new classes, so the list may change now and then.
PHY 202L | Introduction Physics I Lab
PHY 232 | General Physics I-Workshop Phys I
PhD at University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN in 2014
Master of Science at University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN in 2014
Bachelor of Science at Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA in 2006
Why I teach physics
Both scientists and teachers embrace new challenges and never stop learning. Students need to experience physical laws to build their scientific instinct and correct common misconceptions about our world. Studies have shown that students learn best by doing physics experiments and communicating their knowledge to their knowledge to their peers. I teach physics by acting as a guide who facilities great learning experiences for individual students based on the methods of scientific inquiry. This is a fun way to teach and learn anything - espeically science - who doesn't learn better with hands on experience?
Why I study condensed matter physics
Condensed matter physics is the study of material properties that emerge when many particles interact. Its main topics concern patterns, transitions, and dynamics. We study a range of materials: anything larger than a few atoms and asmaller than a star. Pick up a common shell on a beach to see stripe patterns, freeze water in the kitchen to observe phase transitions, or watch the dynamics of interacting humans on a sidewalk, and you encounter a material used to understand fundamental concepts of our world. As a computational condensed matter physicist, I study geometry and patterns in materials using moelcular dynamics simulations. The most compelling aspect of my work is its interdisciplinary applications: by using simple models to describe large numbers of interacting particles, the behaviors I observe yield insights into general mechanisms of pattern formation in nautre. On any given day, I might apply numerical models to granular systems (sand), colloids (micro-sized beads floating in water), active matter (self-propelling colloids), or superconducting vortices (a collective rearrangement of magnetic fields).
What I would tell a student considering a major in physics
Physics majors are well prepared for a wide range of careers. in contrast to other disciplines where careers are limited to further study in a specialty field, physicists are regularly recruitied by employers in every sector. Skills in analytical thinking and quantitative modeling are valuable commodities in the 21st century job market. Graduate school admissions and industry employers seek studnets with experience in research and with several active research groups, the Physics Department at Pacific University is a great place to gain this experience.
Five books I've read recently
A Brief History of Time Steven Hawking
The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science is Still a Boy's Club Eileen Pollack
Trigger Warning: Short Stories and Disturbances Neil Gaiman
The Sound snd the Fury William Faulkner
A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson