I am a full-time astronomy professor here at JCCC. Though I taught physics classes when I first started, I’ve exclusively taught face-to-face and online astronomy classes since the fall of 2003. I sometimes teach online physics and astronomy courses at other colleges around the country.
My duties here at JCCC are typical of most faculty. I teach and serve on various committees, review textbooks, maintain membership in professional organizations in my field, and frequent professional development sessions to learn about new technologies and trends related to online and classroom pedagogy.
I help organize and participate in astronomy outreach activities ranging from Scout Nights to public talks and open houses at the Paul Tebbe Observatory. Once per semester, Professor Patterson and I host Evening with the Stars, which is a nighttime astronomy event that is free and open to the public.
I love all science, but my main interests are in cosmology and the foundations of physics. I spend lots of time keeping up on the latest problems and research that addresses the essential nature and origin of everything we know. Perhaps most of all, I enjoy spontaneous “hallway” talks with just about anyone on just about any scientific topic.
My teaching philosophy is to focus on concepts and causal relationships with discussion and hands-on experience whenever possible. Although some vocabulary and basic facts are very useful to have memorized, especially if one is going to have an intelligent conversation on a topic, they are not the most important part of learning. I want students to understand the processes by which different aspects of the physical universe come about. It is also important that students see the power and generality of only a few major concepts.
Though born in Lawrence, KS, I did most of my growing up in the Los Angeles area. I spent much of my life on the beaches. I attended grade school and high school there. After working in the L.A. area for several years, I went south to study physics at the University of California, San Diego. When family circumstances brought me back to the Midwest, I went to graduate school to study physics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
A big part of my life is my family. Allison (my wife) and I currently reside in Olathe, Kansas. Together, we formed a blended family of all boys! From oldest to youngest they are Ben, Cole, Daniel, and Corey. Though their ages and personalities vary, they share lots of common interests and they get along very well.
Hobbies & Entertainment
I do some amateur photography. I have some of my photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/billforreal/.
I enjoy an evening or early morning walk alone or with my dog, Kylo. Walks give me exercise and get me away from the computer and any chaos at the house. This gives me an opportunity to relax and think. I tend to like movies and TV shows that require imagination and thinking. My book reading consists almost exclusively of science books. I grew up a typical hard rocker in the ’70s, but I like all kinds of music. Much to the surprise of many of my students, I never cared for the Beatles and I don’t like the TV show Big Bang Theory.