A funny story about a U.S. Representative changed the course of Josh Gregory’s life.
Gregory, a senior from Raleigh in the Physics (BS) – Secondary Education program, enrolled at Appalachian State University with the intention of majoring in physics and pursuing a career path as an engineer or in research.
Gregory said then, in his first physics class, Dr. Jennifer Burris, professor in and chair of Appalachian’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, shared an anecdote about a politician who feared an island in the Pacific might become so overpopulated during a planned military buildup that it would “tip over and capsize.”
“The whole class laughed,” Gregory recalled. “But what Dr. Burris said next shook me in a profound way. She said we shouldn’t make fun of the politician, because the statement wasn’t a failure of him as a person, but a failure of us, as scientists, to educate him.”
“Physics teachers are needed in the world,” Gregory said. “I think that only about a third of high school physics teachers actually have a degree in physics.”
Burris quickly became one of Gregory’s favorite professors, and he said he was excited when, as a first-year student, he was offered a research opportunity with her in BiyOSeF — Appalachian’s Biophysics and Optical Sciences Facility.
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