Professor Emeritus of Physics

Roger Dittmann

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I teach physics , in my case I teach mostly advance courses. I started in nuclear physics , and have gravitated more toward the impact of physics on society. I do a lot of writing and research , as well as represent the scientific community at world nuclear related conventions and events. What skills are needed? Well, I need to know my physics, which is always changing. I try to teach the newest materials and I learn alongside of the students. It is a very exciting time of advancement and discovery in physics and in science in general. What was your major? I started as a math major in junior college. When I moved on past junior college, I thought the best combination of using my body and head was to get a degree in geology . Well, to get a degree in geology, you need to take physics. I found physics to be beautiful in an aesthetic way. After that I went on to get a Ph.D . in physics . How did you get started in your career? I was having dinner with Linus Pauling and his wife, who I knew through my church. I was getting close to getting my doctorate. I asked Linus what a socially conscious doctor in physics should do and he said simply "Teach." Then I got an offer I couldn't refuse by my college; senior professor. I have been here for 32 years. What experience do you need in this job? Again, you need to know your physics, but real world experience is good also. I worked for the military for several years. I think it is good to see how things are like in the industry, outside of the ivory tower of academics. Describe your "typical" workday: Well, I have one day off. I average about four hours of lecture, then there are office hours. We also volunteer to tutor our students. Then I supervise research about 2 hours per week. I attend department and committee meetings. I also arrange speaking engagements, conferences, conventions, etc. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Grading, that's the part I hate. I don't like to sit in judgment of another human being. It isn't really the grade that's important, it is your ability to learn the material. I don't think tests can always be a good measure of that. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The students by far. We have a good time, students know I'm there to help them. I get so much great feedback from them. When I see my students succeed it's wonderful, it makes me very proud. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Start as early as possible, not in physics, but get a solid foundation in mathematics and the physics will come easier.