“Whether teaching physics majors or non-science majors, I aim to create an environment in which I can step out of the way and let the wonder of nature speak for herself.”— Timothy Dolch
Additional Faculty Information for Timothy Dolch
Ph.D., Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
M.A., Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
B.S., Physics, California Institute of Technology
North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav)
Hubble Space Telescope CANDELS (Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey) Collaboration
International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA)
I have been an assistant professor in the Physics Department at Hillsdale College since the Fall of 2015. I have a background teaching physics and astronomy at liberal arts colleges. My life as a researcher has taken me to a variety of institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, the Space Telescope Science Institute, Oberlin College, and Cornell University.
At night, I lie awake thinking about pulsars, which are some of the densest stars in the universe. A spoonful of material from such a star would have the weight of a mountain if one could somehow bring it down to Earth. With Hillsdale students, I use the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (remember GoldenEye, the James Bond movie, and the movie Contact?) and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to detect radio signals from pulsars. I fell in love with radio astronomy as a high school freshman while building antennas in my backyard.
I see teaching at Hillsdale as the near-ideal* for both the professor and the student. Hillsdale is a place where all the bad stereotypes of college students evaporate. Upon my first visit, and ever since, I have been impressed by the character, seriousness, and insightful nature of my students. After all, as John Henry Newman discussed at length in The Idea of a University, forming a mature and healthy mind and conscience is the original purpose of higher education.
Whether teaching physics majors or non-science majors, I aim to create an environment in which I can step out of the way and let the wonder of nature speak for herself. In the learning environment, my students tell me that I maintain an atmosphere in which questions are welcome and encouraged. No one learns by merely receiving information passively.
*The only reason I say “near-” is that, due to the Michigan skies, half of my proposed telescope viewing nights get cancelled.