

Teaching Philosophy
Physics is best learned as a combination of conceptual
learning, mathematical formulation, and realworld
application. Although mathematical derivations and
formulations are fundamentally important to a full
understanding of the mechanisms that govern the world
around us, it is equally important to provide conceptual
understanding and reallife examples as a contextual tree
to which students can attach the mathematics. Further,
whenever possible, it is far preferable to introduce the
phenomenon which the equation describes prior to
launching into a lengthy derivation of the equation.
Demonstrations or examples provided before a mathematical
treatise of the subject provide students not only with the
necessary motivation, but a tangible framework to help
follow the mathematical details of a derivation.
Particularly at the
introductory level, physics is not only thoroughly
understandable, but in fact, already inherently understood
by most people. By virtue of having survived
relatively unscathed in a world dictated by the laws of
physics, every student already has a fundamental
understanding of these laws. The classroom study of
physics is simply the formulation of this inherent
understanding into quantitative equations and laws.
Whenever applicable, drawing on common day experiences and
physical intuition to understand, rather than memorize the
laws of physics allows students to better grasp and better
retain both formulas and concepts.
Teaching Experience
My nearly 20 years
of teaching experience began as a graduate TA in the San
Diego State University, Department of Physics as a masters
student. During those three years, I taught
over 20 laboratory courses in which I gave short lectures,
guided student experiments, graded experimental reports,
and devised exams across a wide range of topics,
including: mechanics, wave motion, acoustics,
electricity, DC circuits, electromagnetic fields, and
optics.
As a Ph.D. student at the
University of California at San Diego, I helped to design
and teach the Physics 173: Modern Physics / Biophysics
laboratory course. Along with a series of lectures
on basic and applied optics, the course focuses on student
projects in diverse topics including: optical
tweezers, holography, fluorescence microscopy,
nonlinear optics, pulsed MRI, fly visual system, leech
electrophysiology, human EEG, laser doppler flowmetry,
chaotic circuits, Zeeman effect, and dynamic light
scattering. As a project scientist, I have continued
and expanded my role as associate instructor in this
course, and starting Spring, 2013, I have taken over as
sole instructor for this course.
In 2003, I was invited as a TA to
the "Imaging Structure and Function in the Nervous System"
summer course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Cold
Spring Harbor, NY), and asked to develop a set of
laboratory exercises to provide handson experience in
optics and microscopy to a select class of postdoctoral
and advanced graduate students. Now in my 11th year
with the course, I serve as a coinstructor and as a
primary lecturer for the first week of this intensive
3week course. I give a series of lectures, followed
by bench exercises on basic optics, ray matrices, laser
alignment, widefield microscopy, and laserscanning
microscopy. Students use offtheshelf lenses,
mirrors, and optomechanics, along with laser pointers,
galvonometric scanners, laptops, webcams, Matlab code, and
A/D boards to build their own brightfield micoscopes,
laser scanning systems, and confocal microscopes.
All this in 3 days (and nights) before progressing onto
using commercial twophoton, confocal, and epifluorescence
microscopes in the lab.
