I started my education fully expecting to be an engineer. I finished out three semesters at Pierce College, a community college in my home town of Los Angeles, with this intention (although we called them junior colleges back then!), as well as half of my junior year at UC Berkeley, where I had been accepted as a transfer student into the College of Engineering, as a mechanical engineering major. However, after taking a number of courses in upper division physics and engineering, I realized that what I most loved was physics. Since the physics major was under the College of Letters and Science at Berkeley, and I was not allowed to switch my major to a different college, I became an Engineering-Physics major (that was, and still is, an 'official' major at Berkeley), and this enabled me to finish out my senior year taking almost entirely physics classes.
I liked physics so much that I decided to go for the long haul and see if I could get a PhD. I was accepted at Caltech (to my utter amazement) for graduate study in physics; and since graduate school requires one to specialize, I chose astrophysics as the most interesting to me of all physics sub-fields. I spent 6 1/2 years at Caltech learning all that I could of both physics and astronomy, and absolutely loved it!
Having earned my doctorate, I entered the job world trained to be a research scientist, but I learned early on that what I most love is teaching. I still do a bit of research here and there, but most of my time I spend sharing what I have learned and am still learning about this amazing universe.
And that somewhat long-winded story explains why you can now find me teaching physics, astronomy, and engineering here at Shasta College!
My experiences as both a college student and an instructor have led me to quite a few different institutions, and I would be happy to talk with you if you are considering attending any of them. Places with which I am personally familiar include...
As a student:
UC Davis (attended for half of my freshmen year)
UC Santa Barbara (attended for the other half of my freshmen year)
UCLA (attended for two weeks of my sophomore year before dropping out of college)
Pierce College (attended for three semesters)
UC Berkeley (attended for two years while earning my BS)
Caltech (where I did my graduate work)
As an instructor:
Santa Rosa Junior College
Contra Costa College
Napa Valley College
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Sonoma State University
San Francisco State University
College of the Siskiyous
I have studied and/or majored in all three of these distinct disciplines; and if you are considering any of them as a possible major or career direction, please feel free to email me or stop by my office at any time. I would be happy to share whatever insights I can offer as to what is required in each field, and how they differ from one another.
Meanwhile, you might find the following information and quizzes fun and ~ maybe? ~ helpful. However, I would encourage you not to take the quizzes too seriously. If your heart yearns to be an engineer, and the quiz says you should look for another career, I would say be guided by your heart, not the quiz! (Note that for the first two web sites you have to scan down to the bottom of the page to find the quiz.)
So you want to become a physicist? (a short essay by physicist Michio Kaku)
OwlGuru.com: Should I be a physicist? (quiz)
cornell.edu: Can you describe a day on the job as an astronomer?
OwlGuru.com: Should I be an astronomer? (quiz)
EngineerGirl.org: Why should I become an engineer?
TheBalanceCareers.com: Should you become an engineer? (quiz)
My research interests involve exploring various ways in which some of the weird aspects of quantum mechanics play out in astronomical situations ~ a field of study that my colleagues and I have dubbed 'quantum astronomy.' This is a new field, and there has not been much published in it yet. However, my friend and colleague Laurance Doyle, who works at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, wrote a series of articles a few years back for space.com, in which he covers the kinds of ideas that he and I and our other colleagues have been looking into. I invite you to read through them if the field sounds intriguing to you.
space.com: Quantum Astronomy 1: The Double-Slit Experiment
space.com: Quantum Astronomy 2: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Quantum Astronomy 3: Knowability and Unknowability in the Universe
(for some reason the space.com version of this article has disappeared; this is an alternate that includes the original text)
space.com: Quantum Astronomy 4: A Cosmic-Scale Double-Slit Experiment
space.com: Quantum Astronomy: Information in the Universe
And here is a link to a brief summary of the experiment that I have been involved in for some years now:
FQXi (Foundational Questions Institute): Is Quantum Knowability Subject to Spacetime Warping?