16 September 2016

Scientists head from the lab to the lectern

MagLab physicist Irinel Chiorescu teaches a physics lab at Florida State University. MagLab physicist Irinel Chiorescu teaches a physics lab at Florida State University. Stephen Bilenky

Hundreds of scientists work at the National MagLab, and you'll often find them conducting experiments or working in their offices. But with the start of a new academic year, many are now in the classroom, teaching the next generation of scientists and engineers at Florida State University (FSU), the University of Florida (UF) and the Florida A&M University/FSU College of Engineering.

Teaching is a big part of the MagLab's mission. In fact, more than 200 of our top-notch scientists hold faculty appointments, about half of whom, including physicist Irinel Chiorescu (pictured above), teach formal classes on campus.

"The act of teaching is intrinsically connected to research," explained Chiorescu, who is showing students how to "think like a scientist" in his FSU physics lab this semester. "If we teach our students well, we will have top scientists in the future."

It's not all about making the students better, however. Teaching makes Chiorescu a better scientist — and a better science communicator.

"Teaching gives the opportunity to put research topics into a different perspective, adapted to undergraduate students," said Chiorescu. "This not only attracts bright undergrads to our research group, but helps me bring clarity to manuscripts and presentations about our work."

MagLab faculty also teach outside the classroom, advising the more than 300 undergrads, grad students and postdocs who conduct research right here at the lab. Although the environment is different, the benefit to both the teacher and the teached is the same.

"I really enjoy getting different aspects from students and postdocs," said MagLab spectroscopist Riqiang Fu, who has advised many early-career chemists and biologists in his career at the lab. "It widens my view towards any problems and allows me to design experiments from different perspectives."


Text by Kristen Coyne. Photo by Stephen Bilenky.

Last modified on 16 September 2016