places I’ve lived
Although I’m actually an Ohio native, I grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh (which, make no mistake, is a Midwestern city despite being in Pennsylvania). My parents met at Wittenberg University, where my brother and I both later studied.
At Wittenberg, I fully embraced the liberal arts philosophy by casting a wide net with my studies and delaying a choice of major until the last possible moment. I managed to straddle the divide between the humanities and the sciences for a while by pursuing majors both in physics and in French language and literature. The French studies took me on a sidetrack to Senegal for a semester of studying language, art, and culture in Dakar, culminating in a research paper on ethnic identity. Back in Springfield, my extracurricular activities included the production of a moderately embarrassing acoustic rock album.
in the CMS Cavern
During my time at Wittenberg, I started to become more aware of my appreciation for the good work being done by my professors and the enjoyment of struggling to communicate new ideas to those on the great journey of learning physics. Those experiences led me to graduate school to prepare for a career in teaching and research. I moved to Madison, WI to pursue a physics Ph.D., and was immediately seduced by the field of experimental particle physics and the promises it held of international collaboration and travel. As a result, I became involved with the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, one of the main detectors at the Large Hadron Collider on the French/Swiss border. My work focused on monitoring and validation of the experiment’s muon trigger system as well as analysis focused on the physics of W and Z bosons, culminating in a dissertation searching for a potential alternative to the Higgs boson.
One significant finding from graduate school was that I loved programming as much as I loved teaching. I never predicted how much my research work would involve coding and how interesting that process could be. My research work was all about problem solving in the context of huge datasets, finding clarity in chaos by exposing underlying structure. There is a great deal of creativity that goes into writing the analysis software which makes those investigations possible, and I was always equally excited about discovering the capabilities of our software tools as I was about the physics results we could gain from applying them.
the family in the UP
In 2007, I married Karen Obee, my college sweetheart and a native of Toledo, Ohio. She loves the Mudhens and Lebanese food. We have two small children.
During my time in Madison, I pursued professional development in teaching through the Delta program in Research, Teaching, and Learning. I developed a workshop on facilitating cooperative group work for instructors, which I’ve presented in various contexts at UW-Madison and at CU-Boulder through Delta’s exchange program. I have also been a teaching assistant for both calculus-based and algebra-based physics at Madison and taught the physics portion of the university’s MCAT preparation course for two years.
During the 2010-2011 academic year, I had the opportunity to more seriously pursue my teaching ambitions with a lecturing position at he Univeristy of Wisconsin - Whitewater. I received some great mentoring from the physics faculty there and got to experience the full responsibility of developing and administering my own courses.