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Jim Hetrick

Professor of Physics, Fletcher-Jones Professor of Data Science


Olson 101


PhD, University of Minnesota, 1990

BS, Case Western Reserve University, 1982

Curriculum Vitae 

Teaching Philosophy

* Patience, fairness, and respect for students.
This is the basis for good teaching and communication. Furthermore it is important that the outline, requirements for grades, and expected demands are clearly stated to the students at the beginning.

* Complete command of the material.
Lectures should be clearly written out in full so that students may have copies for study. Clarity and logical organization are essential. The best teachers I have had each gave me a set of clear and thoughtful lecture notes which I still use.

* Intuition for students' difficulties.
A good teacher can sense when students are lost, and needs to stop and backtrack. Invariably the barrier to understanding is a particular concept which blocks everything presented after the point of confusion. Clearing this up allows the learning process to proceed and gives the student confidence. Often it is mastering a particular obstacle that gives that "Ah-ha" feeling in which many aspects of the larger picture fall into place at once.

* Perspective.
Physical principles manifest in many ways, and this is one of the wonderful aspects of physics. It is important that the instructor be able to weave previously mastered concepts into new material, and to show a variety of interesting aspects to individual concepts. Making these applications pertinent to the student, as opposed to using hackneyed examples, brings life to the lecture and engages students in the excitement of learning.

* Understanding different learning styles.
Physicists tend to abstract general principles from examples, mathematicians build from axioms, others learn by analogy, and others by rote study. An effective instructor manages to accommodate many learning styles through a well organized and clear lecture in which students can reorganize main points, examples, and asides in ways most beneficial to them.

* Reinforcement
Homework and labwork are crucial aspects of learning and applying the concepts presented in lectures. Students must have the opportunity to go through their homework problems in a timely and guided way, with as much personal attention as possible. This is a very time consuming part of teaching, but is also indispensable.

Research Interests

High Energy Particle Physics
Lattice Gauge Theory
Computational Physics 
Topological Aspects of Gauge Theories
Analytics and Data Science


PHYS 17 Concepts of Physics
PHYS 27 Scientific Computing Tutorial
PHYS 39 The Physics of Music
PHYS 41 Astronomy
PHYS 53 Principles of Physics I
PHYS 55 Principles of Physics II
PHYS 57 Modern Physics
PHYS 101 Electricity and Magnetism
PHYS 102 Electrodynamics
PHYS 141 Cosmology
PHYS 151 Advanced Laboratory
PHYS 161 Thermal Physics
PHYS 181 Classical Mechanics
PHYS 183 Quantum Mechanics
HIST 193 Big History
PACS 001 Pacific Seminar
ANLT 212 Analytics Computing I
ANLT 213 Analytics Computing II