Yale Prize Teaching Fellowship, 2013-2014  web version

Yale Prize Teaching Fellowship, 2011-2012  web version


My primary goal when teaching any subject, academic or otherwise, is to ensure that the audience is engaged and actively participates in the discussion of the material. I achieve this goal in three main ways. First, I ensure that the students view our interactions as informal and casual affairs, reducing their hesitation to ask questions or request additional instruction. Second, I make as much of the material as possible question driven, so that in many cases the students are personally responsible for finding the gaps in their understanding, which in turn yields an engaged audience when an answer is provided. The final element of this procedure is that I try to provide challenging subject material and homework that is presented at a brisk pace such that questions are inevitable. This is not to suggest that I condone a haphazard or sloppy presentation of any material. Quite the contrary -- I strive to present lectures that are clear, organized, and delineate important results.

In upper level undergraduate courses, I believe it is important and appropriate for the exams to be sufficiently challenging so that the exceptional students may distinguish themselves. In the fall of 2013, while serving as the teaching fellow for Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, I designed a problem for the midterm based on demonstrating that the Carnot cycle of a magnetic material can be used as a cooling mechanism. Indeed, nearly this exact method is used in experiments and is called adiabatic demagnetization. After the exam, the students expressed that while they found the problem to be challenging, they felt it was fair, and the question was successful in identifying the range of student abilities in the class.

In introductory level undergraduate courses there is not as much urgency to distinguish the best students from the good ones, and that the goal of teaching such a course is to impart as much excitement and enthusiasm about the material as possible. In the spring of 2010, I ran a section of General Physics Laboratory, a course usually taken by non-physics majors, and did my best to impart my zeal for physics on the students. As an example, during a lab studying statistical analysis, I emphasized that one must be careful when searching for trends in experimental data when random phenomena are involved. I pulled up a map of the city and surrounding suburbs and demonstrated that by randomly distributing dots, possibly representing diseased patients, we instinctively try to find trends, where in fact no trends exist, and this can lead to faulty health policy decisions. The students appreciated this exercise as it demonstrated the relevance of the material to a field that many of them were interested in.

To conclude, I view teaching as a conversation with my students. I respect the dignity of each individual and have learned from experience that the students must have ample opportunities to actively participate to promote effective instruction. My overarching goal is to create an environment in which they feel comfortable and confident to engage with both the material and me.


Undergraduate Summer Research Mentor

Mentored Jason Frost's summer research project at Stanford University on exploring the optical properties of meta-materials comprised of eutectic materials with a phonon-polariton response, such as AgCl and KCl.

Undergraduate Senior Thesis Mentor

Mentored Kevin Lai's senior thesis project at Yale University on migrating the SALT algorithm to C and interfacing with the PETSc scientific library.
2012-2013 academic year.

Davenport Residential College Graduate Affiliate

Organize and run events, such as making Liquid Nitrogen ice cream, for members of Davenport College.
Fall 2010 to Spring 2015.

Davenport Affiliate Coordinator

Oversees the Graduate Affiliate program for Davenport College, organizing and supervising study breaks and other community events.
Fall 2011 to Spring 2014.

Davenport Mellon Forum Steering Committee Member

Works with the Senior Mellon Forum Committee to rehearse and advise seniors presenting their final projects to the forum.
Fall 2013 to Spring 2015.

Yale University - Engineering 194: Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations with Applications

Introductory level course.
Teaching assistant, Spring 2015.
I have designed homework and exam questions for this course.

Yale University - Physics 420: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Junior level course.
Teaching assistant, Fall 2014, Fall 2013, Fall 2012, Fall 2011.
I have designed homework and exam questions for this course.

Yale University - Physics 430: Electromagnetic Fields and Optics

Junior level course.
Teaching assistant, Spring 2014.

Yale University - Physics 549: Solid-State Physics II

Graduate level course.
Teaching assistant, Spring 2013.

Yale University - Physics 165/166: General Physics Laboratory

Introductory level course.
Teaching assistant, Spring 2012, Spring 2010, Fall 2009.

Yale University - Physics 502: Electromagnetic Theory I

Graduate level course.
Teaching assistant, Spring 2011.

Yale University - Physics 420: Classical Mechanics

Junior level course.
Teaching assistant, Fall 2010.


Responses are given anonymously by students at the end of the semester, before they receive their grade, and are not revealed to the professor and teaching assistant until after grades are finalized. Students can opt out of responding to this online survey.

Physics 420: Fall 2013 -  PDF download ,  Fall 2012 -  PDF download ,  Fall 2011 -  PDF download ,

Physics 549: Spring 2013 -  PDF download

Physics 165/166: Spring 2012 -  PDF download ,  Spring 2010 -  PDF download ,  Fall 2009 -  PDF download

Physics 410: Fall 2010 -  PDF download