I’m a professor in the Department of Physics at Swarthmore College. I joined the department in September of 2003, earned tenure in 2009, and was promoted to full professor in 2017.
I am the faculty director of Swarthmore’s Natural Sciences & Engineering Inclusive Excellence Initiatives, and I’m currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the American Physical Society Forum on Education.
Here you can review my publications, invited and contributed talks, curriculum vitae, and brief biography.
Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (IPLS)
I have developed a new introductory physics sequence at Swarthmore especially designed for life science students, Physics 3L-4L. (read more…)
I am part of an National Science Foundation-funded national team developing the Living Physics Portal, an environment for community-sourced development, publication, and distribution of IPLS instructional materials. The Portal will allow developers to submit their work for communal review and evaluation, and also serve as an archive and distribution site accessible by all instructors.
My materials for this course are available for others to use here (until the Portal is complete that is!).
I have been part of the organizing team for several conferences on IPLS, and have given a number of talks and written several articles about this curriculum.
Physics Education Research
My Swarthmore colleagues Benjamin Geller, Sara Hiebert Burch, and Univ of Maryland colleague Chandra Turpen, with the participation of several Swarthmore undergraduates, are in Year Two of an NSF-funded pilot longitudinal study of the long-term ability of students to use the physics they learned in IPLS, and also of their attitudes to using physics in biology.
As a postdoctoral fellow, I was involved in a variety of projects to assess the effectiveness of physics instruction, and to develop more effective ways of teaching introductory physics at the college level. (read more…)
Experimental Research at Swarthmore
My current experimental research, in collaboration with Kathleen Howard (Swarthmore Chemistry and Biochemistry), uses optical techniques (light scattering, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and optical microscopy) for physical characterization of model systems for biophysical study of integral membrane proteins. (read more ….)
During my 2010-11 sabbatical, I joined the research group of Prof. Tobias Baumgart (University of Pennsylvania) to study the role of the physical shape (curvature) of cell membranes in important cellular processes. The projects that mms students and I participated in examined how peripheral membrane-binding proteins localize preferentially in regions of higher curvature, and the role of electrostatics vs hydrophobic interactions in binding.
From 2003-2011, my research group, in collaboration with Marija Drndic‘s lab, studied light emission from individual tiny semiconductor particles known as nanocrystals. The time dependence of the light emission gives us information about the dynamics of the electrons in a single nanoparticle and in its surroundings. (read more…)
Previous research experience
Prior to joining the Swarthmore faculty, I studied micro- and nanoscale materials from a couple of other angles. For my doctoral work, I studied the interactions between a pair of “quantum dots”, or tiny regions to which electrons are confined, by measuring the flow of current through the pair. As a postdoctoral fellow, I investigated ways to fabricate micro- and nanoscale structures on semiconductors and metals using laser ablation, and measured the novel optical and electrical properties of these materials. (read more…)