2009

Introduction to Peer Instruction, at New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop, American Center for Physics (College Park, MD), Thursday, November 12, 2009:
I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly
Nonlinear optics at the nanoscale, at Physics Colloquium, University of Maryland Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD), Wednesday, November 11, 2009:
We explore nonlinear optical phenomena at the nanoscale by launching femtosecond laser pulses into long silica nanowires. Using evanescent coupling between wires we demonstrate a number of nanophotonic devices. At high intensity the nanowires produce a strong supercontinuum over short interaction lengths (less than 20 mm) and at a very low energy threshold (about 1 nJ), making them ideal sources of coherent white-light for nanophotonic applications. The spectral broadening reveals an optimal fiber diameter to enhance nonlinear effects with minimal dispersion. We also present a device that... Read more about Nonlinear optics at the nanoscale
Confessions of a converted lecturer, at Faculty Development Center Lecture, University of Maryland Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD), Wednesday, November 11, 2009:
I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly
Peer Instruction, at CDIO Region-of-the-Americas Meeting, Duke University (Durham, NC), Monday, November 9, 2009:
The basic goals of Peer Instruction are to encourage and make use of student interaction during lectures, while focusing students' attention on underlying concepts and techniques. The method has been assessed in many studies using standardized, diagnostic tests and shown to be considerably more effective than the conventional lecture approach to teaching. Peer Instruction is now used in a wide range of science and math courses at the college and secondary level. In this workshop, participants will learn about Peer Instruction, serve as the “class” in which Peer Instruction is demonstrated,... Read more about Peer Instruction
Venturing toward better teaching: Professors' knowledge base for pedagogical improvement in introductory STEM classrooms at major research universities., at The Association for The Study of Higher Education Annual Meeting (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Thursday, November 5, 2009
Educational reformers often portray the majority of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professors at American research universities as subject-matter experts but pedagogical novices (Baldwin, 2009; Boyer, 1998; Coopala, 2009; Handeslman et al., 2006; Wieman, 2006). Images of STEM professors as lacking knowledge about best teaching practices are especially prevalent in discussions about academic researchers: A wide array of constituents, from students and journalists to scholars of teaching and learning, have long proffered views of academic researchers as so heavily... Read more about Venturing toward better teaching: Professors' knowledge base for pedagogical improvement in introductory STEM classrooms at major research universities.
Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?, at FEUP Learing and Teaching Engineering Workshop, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (Porto, Portugal), Friday, October 30, 2009:
Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing... Read more about Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?
Black Silicon Technology, at NATO SET Panel Business Meeting (Brussels, Belgium), Wednesday, October 28, 2009:
Shining intense, ultrashort laser pulses on the surface of a crystalline silicon wafer drastically changes the optical, material and electronic properties of the wafer. The resulting textured surface is highly absorbing and looks black to the eye. The properties of this 'black silicon' make it useful for a wide range of commercial devices. In particular, we have been able to fabricate highly-sensitive PIN photodetectors using this material. The sensitivity extends to wavelengths of 1600 nm making them particularly useful for applications in communications and remote sensing.
The scientific approach to teaching: Research as a basis for course design, at ICPE2009 (Bangkok, Thailand), Monday, October 19, 2009:
Discussions of teaching -- even some publications -- abound with anecdotal evidence. Our intuition often supplants a systematic, scientific approach to finding out what works and what doesn't work. Yet, research is increasingly demonstrating that our gut feelings about teaching are often wrong. In this talk I will discuss some research my group has done on gender issues in science courses and on the effectiveness of classroom demonstrations.
Nanosurgery with Femtosecond Lasers, at 2009 OSA Frontiers in Optics (San Jose, CA), Wednesday, October 14, 2009:
We use femtosecond laser pulses to manipulate sub-cellular structures inside live and fixed cells. Using only a few nanojoules of laser pulse energy, we are able to selectively disrupt individual mitochondria in live bovine capillary epithelial cells, and cleave single actin fibers in the cell cytoskeleton network of fixed human fibro-blast cells. We have also used the technique to micromanipulate the neural network of C. Elegans, a small nematode. Our laser scalpel can snip individual axons without causing any damage to surrounding tissue, allowing us to study the function of individual... Read more about Nanosurgery with Femtosecond Lasers

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