Teaching and mentoring activities since joining the University of Hawaii

Because of the strong research focus of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, the R-type faculty do not have as heavy teaching load as instructional faculty, with the requirement to teach 4 credits over each two year period. These credits could come from undergraduate or graduate teaching or research supervision of graduate students (GG699 Directed Research).

GG 301 Mineralogy

In the fall semester of 2014 I taught the Geology and Geophysics 301 Mineralogy undergraduate course together with Dr. Julia Hammer. Mineralogy is one of the core courses required to graduate with major in geology, and is not an easy topic to study or teach. The subject is very quantitative, requires development of good 3-dimensional perception and visual pattern recognition, relies quite heavily on at least intermediate level concepts of solid state chemistry, physics and calculus, and involves labs that develop skills in hand specimen interpretation and petrographic microscope use for mineral identification. We had 15 students enrolled in the fall 2014 GG 301 class. Approximately half of the students were graduate level students enrolled in the G&G MSc or PhD programs, with the remaining half being undergraduates. The classes in GG301 are designed to be fast paced, including exciting experiments that range from pouring liquid nitrogen on pyroelectric crystals, to cutting fruits and vegetables, the shapes of which resemble optical property ellipsoids. Students stay engaged through the whole class, ask questions and retained a lot of information. In the fall semester of 2015 I taught GG301 again, together with Dr. Bin Chen. The class had enrollment of 14 students.

Mentoring graduate students

I currently advise, fully fund, and serve as chair of the PhD Committee for two UH mineral physics students, Yi Hu and Hannah Shelton. Both of the students successfully passed their PhD qualifying exams in 2014 and are well on track towards timely completion of their dissertation work. Each of the students is already a first author on a peer-reviewed journal publication.

Mentoring undergraduate students

I funded and advised three UH undergraduate research assistants, Morgan Roman, Diamond Techera and Ryan Hendrix.

COMPRES Distinguished Lecture Series

In 2014 COMPRES, the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences, selected me for its 2014-2015 Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) in Mineral Physics. The COMPRES Distinguished Lecture Series, launched in 2008, features talks on topics that emphasize the exciting high-pressure geoscience research being conducted within the COMPRES community and its significance for understanding fundamental Earth and planetary processes. The primary target audience for these lectures are undergraduate students and their instructors in departments of geology and Earth sciences at non-PhD granting institutions, but applications from all academic institutions in the country are welcome. Typically each lecturer gives 4-5 talks during the period September-May. The talks are meant to be accessible and easily understandable to the students to maximize educational value. COMPRES provides full financial support of the lecturer travel expenses. In the spring 2015 I delivered 5 COMPRES DLS lectures at Concord University, Illinois State University, Michigan State University, Colorado State University and New Mexico State University.

Teaching and mentoring activities prior to joining the University of Hawaii

Since June 2007 until August 2013 I worked at the Center for Advanced Radiation Sources (CARS), University of Chicago, located at the Argonne National Laboratory. CARS operates state-of-the art experimental research facility at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), where academic researchers apply for experimental time through peer reviewed proposals and then, if granted access, come to carry out the proposed work in collaboration with the facility scientists, like myself. Because of the non-instructional setting of my employment at that time, my approach to mentoring focused on finding and creating mentoring opportunities through five different routes (i) co-advising graduate students through collaborations with academic partners, (ii) organizing and participating in training events for students and young researchers, (iii) volunteer teaching of courses at local universities and online, (iv) supervising undergraduate and high-school internships (v) mentoring young postdoctoral researchers.

University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Graduate course Geology 532 Advanced Mineralogy

Because of the strong desire to also teach in a regular classroom setting, in 2011, while still working at CARS, I accepted an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at the Geology Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In the fall semester of 2011 I taught (together with Dr. Ercan Alp and Prof. Jay Bass) a graduate-level course in Advanced Mineralogy (Geology 532). The 2011 course had an enrollment of 15 students, mainly from geology and materials science programs, and was quite successful, because I was asked to teach the class again in the fall of 2012, with 8 students enrolled.