In the essay “Science, Art, and Play,” Erwin Schrödinger, a physicist and a Nobel laureate best known for his role in the development of quantum mechanics, presents a view of scientific inquiry and scholarly activity in general as play1. He reflects on the purpose of science and the role of science educators

… we are compelled to see the chief and lofty aim of science to-day, as in every other age, in the fact that it enhances the general joy of living. It is the duty of a teacher of science to impart to his listeners knowledge which will prove useful in their professions; but it should also be his intense desire to do it in such a way as to cause them pleasure.

While Schrödinger was speaking from a traditional paradigm in which knowledge is passed directly from a teacher to a student by means of lecturing, his characterization of science as play provides an apt metaphorical framework for the discussion of more modern approaches to teaching. Our job as educators is to show the students how to play, whether by modeling the scientific inquiry in classroom activities or engaging them in research projects. To this end, we should design courses built on goal-oriented, project-based activities through which students can explore on their own under the guidance of an instructor. When students are engaged in activities in which there is something at stake, they more quickly absorb and integrate new information into their pre-existing body of knowledge, and become better problem solvers. A good educator facilitates intellectually challenging experiences and provides opportunities for students to develop their communication and collaboration skills. Just as importantly, we have a task of breaking down our students’ assumptions about who can or should or is capable of partaking in the scholarly play.

The practical challenge for me has been finding the right balance between imparting factual knowledge and allowing for independent inquiry, which depends on the type of the course. In my 100-level courses I focus more on the importance of asking creative questions, the value of making mistakes and learning from them, and the experience of joy of investigation. I believe this is particularly important for attracting minority students who may think they are not “cut out” for science. In my 200- and 300-level courses, I focus more on building the body of knowledge necessary for addressing more advanced problems, strengthening students’ confidence in their ability to tackle these problems, and sharpening their skills for independent inquiry.

My experiences in the classroom have strengthened my belief that doing independent, creative, project-based work is the best way for students to maintain an interest in the material and master it.

1Schrödinger, E. (1957) Science, Theory, and Man. New York: Dover Publications.


NS-0274, Linear Algebra
NS-0103, The Science of Space and Time


Hampshire College

NS/HACU-0243, On What There Is: Physics and Metaphysics (co-taught with Christoph Cox)

NS-0205, Physics II: Fundamentals of Electricity and Magnetism      Spring 2019, `20
with Lab

NS-0113, Physics of Color                                                           Spring 2017, `18, `19
Fall 2019

NS-0206, Modern Physics                                                                             Fall 2018

NS-0338, Thermal Physics                                                                        Spring 2018

NS-0103, The Science of Space and Time                                       Fall 2017, `18, `20

NS-0208, Science in a Cultural Context                                                        Fall 2017

NS-0213, Symmetries of Nature: An Introduction to                               Spring 2017
Group Theory

NS-0274, Linear Algebra                                                                              Fall 2016

NS-0183/0383, Basic Physics: Quantum Mechanics for the Myriad            Fall 2016

Wellesley College

Physics 101, Einstein’s Century: Physics in the Last 100 Years               Spring 2016

Physics 250H, Independent Study in General Relativity                          Spring 2016

Physics 302, Quantum Mechanics                                                                 Fall 2015

Physics 108, Principles and Applications of Electricity, Magnetism, & Optics
Lab                                                                                                             Spring 2014

Physics 106, Fundamentals of Electricity, Magnetism, & Optics
Lecture                                                                                                Fall 2012, 2015
                                                                                    Spring 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Lab                                                                                                  Spring 2014, 2015

Physics 104, Fundamentals of Mechanics
Lecture                                                                                      Fall 2012, 2013,  2014
                                                                                                      Summer 2013, 2015
                                                                                                                  Spring  2013
Lab                                                                                                      Fall 2013,  2014

Boston University

WR100, Writing Seminar, Space and Time: Common              Fall 2009, 2010, 2011
Sense & Beyond               


Committee Chair

  • Carlos Sevilla, Analog Quantum Simulation with Hyperbolic Optical Lattices. Hampshire College, 2020. (Work supervised by Prof. Arka Majumdar, UW)
  • Lucy Propper, Situating Science: In Search of a Just Production and Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge. Hampshire College, 2020. (Co-Chaired with Herb Bernstein).
  • Max Adams, Learning through Optical Interference on a Budget; Building a Mach-Zehnder Interferometer. Hampshire College, 2019.
  • Andy Cohn, Variability of Low Mass Stars. Hampshire College, 2019. (Co-Chaired with Jason Young).
  • Ariel Kane-Ersig, Teaching Physics. Hampshire College, 2019.

Committee Member

  • Elaine Robinson, Molecular Characterization of Pluripotent Stem Cells: When Science is Personal. Hampshire College, 2020.
  • Lucas May, Out of the Earth, into the Fire. Hampshire College, 2020. (Pottery and Printmaking)
  • Alison Lima, How 2020 State Laws Can Affect Abortion Access. Hampshire College, 2020.
  • Christian Lee, Accessible Forest Management in New England. Hampshire College, 2020.
  • Jonathan Kay, Beatty Sequences, Sturmian Words, Subtraction Games, and Infinite Sums. Hampshire College, 2020.
  • Sarita Shera, TJ Tiger and the Quantum Mechanics. Hampshire College, 2019.
  • Andrew Davis, Food Neophobia and Disgust. Hampshire College, 2019.
  • Doma Ghale, Evaluating fairness and transparency in decision models for predicting recidivism. Hampshire College, 2018.
  • Jeremy Kirn, Topology and Logic. Hampshire College, 2017.
  • Victoria Delano, Neurocardiology, Biofield Physiology and the Pineal Gland; Understanding Energy Medicine. Hampshire College, 2017.