After parents, I believe teachers have the greatest influence to shape the lives and the future of their students. Education is empowerment and my goal is to have my students believe and achieve this lifelong empowerment. I often share the story of my humble beginnings in rural India with students when I’d have to walk several miles a day to go to the nearest school and how, that early education opened my eyes to the world in ways I could never have imagined, The commitment to learn led me to be the first in my village to pursue a Ph.D. in Physics at Dalhousie in Canada, a post-doc at Case Western in Cleveland and see the world, as Physics often does, in ways I could never have imagined. I had the fortune of working on eye-opening projects from DARPA’s metal-ceramic interfacial bonding (similar to stealth bomber coating technology) applying quantum-chemistry theories to contributing to DARPA’s Polymer Program Review at the Pentagon and discussing helical organic ferromagnets. Every individual’s journey will be different and the manifestations of their education can’t be predicted; however, I believe the greatest gift to embark on life’s journey is the gift of education.
In the various Physics courses I have taught, I try to help develop connections between theory and real-life applications. I want students to live in the world of Physics by introducing experiments, encouraging questions, debating views and often have students guide the direction of the course. During my classes, I’ll try to leave them with visual and hearing memories. In order to understand theories, I’ll introduce unique numerical examples that they can then apply to real-life situation around them. During practical coursework, I try and instill curiosity to try traditional as well as innovative methods to get the same results and ultimately tie back to the underlying theories underscoring experiments. I’m also an advocate for studying in groups, where students can share ideas, notes and resources. It may sound clichéd, but I don’t want my classes to feel like a class, but rather a forum for building on ideas and providing access, in many ways an inspiration for Piazza, which my daughter Pooja Nath Sankar founded here in Silicon Valley and is used across 400 universities today.
I love teaching physics and have both taught and conducted research in the field for over thirty years across the globe in the United States, Canada and India. The courses I have taught include solid state physics, quantum mechanics, magnetism, optics and general classical physics at the collegiate and pre-collegiate levels. I’ve been fortunate to graduate over five thousand students - and it only has brought me ever more joy over the years to see my students succeed.
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