Jim Hetrick

Hetrick, James

Professor/Assoc Director of Analytics
Room 101
Olson Hall
Email Address:
Phone Number:

PhD, University of Minnesota, 1990

BS, Case Western Reserve University, 1982

Curriculum Vitae
Teaching Interests

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