Sarah Formica, an associate professor of physics, has received multiple awards for her contributions to her field, including the Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Chair.
I earned both my undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees at the State University of New York – Albany.
Besides teaching a variety of physics courses (2211, 2212, 3310, 3411, 3990, 4990), I serve as an advisor for multiple groups – academics, undergraduate research, Society of Physics Students, and the Physics Journal Club. I also serve on the Advisory Boards for CURCA, USG STEM Initiative Conference, UNG Research Conference, and I am a member of the Faculty Affairs Committee.
There is so much that interests me about my field including that the science of physics explains how the physical world works. I find it remarkable to study the physical world on a microscopic scale. Also, many physics professors are pioneers in innovative teaching methods focusing on interactive and hands-on strategies such as “Scale-Up “and “Just-in-Time Teaching”. I am proud to be part of a group of educators who are committed to improving the teaching of science.
The success of my students inspires me the most particularly when they are accepted into graduate programs to continue their study of physics. I am so thrilled when graduates return to UNG to thank me, too.
I have been honored to earn numerous awards such as the Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Chair; Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology; Contributions to the Intellectual Environment of UNG Award; and the Excellence in Teaching Award. But my personal highlights are when students who were initially struggling are transformed into successful, inquisitive, learners. I’ve seen this happen time and time again when students involved in undergraduate research make connections between theories and applications to the real world. You can almost see the light bulbs switch on!
My main goal as an associate professor of physics is to lead students into taking responsibility for their own learning. I have moved from the traditional lecture format by ‘flipping’ my classes so that students use class time to discuss concepts, critically ask questions, and apply physics to understand the world. This enables them to gain confidence that they can all independently learn. I also want to instill in them an appreciation for the application of physics which, in our interdisciplinary world, they can use that knowledge in other classes and life experiences.
I am so fortunate to be able to teach students about atoms, particles, and nuclear physics which are the building blocks of our world. I attribute my passion, in part, to my sixth grade teacher who ‘hooked’ me on math and many outstanding science professors at SUNY.