Dr. Jonathan Williams
Dr. Jonathan Williams, Assistant Professor of Physics
Oftentimes, students approach science courses such as physics with apprehension, believing that the subjects are inherently difficult. Instead of allowing students to shut down, Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Johnathon Williams strives to make physics fun. "I embrace the challenge of breaking down students' preconceptions toward physics," he said. "Once they understand the fundamental concepts, they can apply them to all facets of science!"
Born and raised in Belize, Central America, Johnathan came to the U.S. to attend The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in physics in 2004. Due to the vibrant and interesting research programs at UAB, Johnathon decided to continue his education there in their doctoral program and earned his Ph.D. in physics in 2010.
Following graduation, Johnathan and his family moved to Northeast Ohio to pursue employment opportunities. Having enjoyed working as a graduate teaching assistant at UAB, he found work teaching physics as an adjunct professor at Lorain County Community College and at Cuyahoga Community College. The following year, he joined the faculty at Bowling Green State University, teaching physics full-time at the college's Firelands campus. He held this position for three years before coming to Lake Erie College as an assistant professor of physics this past fall.
Johnathan has been passionate about physics ever since high school, when his physics teacher made the subject fun. "The way that physics reveals the beauty of nature at its most fundamental level is very captivating and ambitious," he said. "I hope to spark this interest in my students, too."
As his career progressed, Johnathan's focus shifted from research projects toward physics education. He has pursued several professional development avenues to improve the effectiveness of his teaching, and he has grown to love the creative freedom available at smaller schools.
At Lake Erie, Johnathan is excited about the ability to work with students over the course of four years. "The smaller class sizes present an opportunity for greater student-teacher interaction, which would be limited at larger institutions," he said. Students are able to freely express their ideas in this environment, rather than having them stifled in large lecture halls.
The size of the College also allows for more interaction amongst faculty, providing fertile ground for interdisciplinary studies. "I believe there is great potential to increase course offerings between disciplines," he said. "The increased interaction amongst faculty promotes interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work."
One example of this collaborative sort of coursework has formed through Johnathan's efforts to study the physics of horse jumping. Taking advantage of the resources at the George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center, Johnathan is in the process of exploring the potential applications in mechanics as relating to equine studies. "Introductory physics students can fully analyze the trajectory of a successful or unsuccessful horse jump using motion equations derived in class," he said. "This will demonstrate the applicability of theoretical analysis, making it more 'real' for students."For Johnathan, his favorite part of teaching is convincing students that physics is accessible and can even be fun. "My objective in teaching physics is to change the preconceived notion that physics is a reclusive branch of the natural sciences," he said. "It's not!"