From Fall 2013 onwards, I've been an Associate Director in Princeton University's Council on Science and Technology, where I work on bringing science and engineering to a wider audience.
Science of Sound
In Spring 2019, I co-taught Musical Instruments, Sound, Perception, and Creativity with Dan Trueman. The course was featured on the Princeton University home page.
Through weekly labs, online video lectures, and in-class activities and discussions, we tied together topics in acoustics, the math underlying musical tuning systems, the science of sound perception, instrument building, and code-based music synthesis. At the same time, the students delved into the historical development of the piano, conducted in-depth explorations of historical and novel tuning systems, listened to musical repertoire and created novel compositions, and even 'prepared' pianos using John Cage's original instructions.
This course builds on Reinventing the Piano, an online course created by Dan Trueman. In 2018 and 2019, I worked closely with Dan on creating and teaching a set of labs that explored the math and science of music in more depth, first offered as a first-year seminar in 2018, and expanded into a regular course in 2019. The topics covered in the labs were:
- Dividing the Octave With a Ukulele: the Math Behind Pitch Perception
- Sine Waves and our Perception of Loudness
- Harmonics, Timbre and Fourier Synthesis
- Beats, Difference Tones, and the London Police Whistle
- Building a PVC Overtone Flute
- Exploring Tuning and Temperaments
- Inharmonicity and the Prepared Piano
- Analyzing Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument
- Virtual Instrument Building with bitKlavier
- Physical Modeling: Synthesizing Guitar Strings and Flutes
- Physical Modeling: Synthesizing the Human Voice
In some of the labs, we used Synthesine, a web-based sound coding library & environment that I created (with input from Shefali Nayak) to learn more about synthesis, and to lower the barrier for experimenting with web-based sound synthesis. In labs, students with no prior programming experience used functional programming concepts to perform real-time synthesis of guitars, flutes, and the human voice, all in the browser.
Engineering and the Arts
In Fall 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, along with colleagues Jeff Snyder, Naomi Leonard, Maria Garlock, Sigrid Adrienssens, and Adam Finkelstein, I co-taught Transformations in Engineering and the Arts, a course teaching students of all majors to create work at the intersection of art & engineering. In this course, we examine transformations between visuals, sound, structure, and movement, explore the notion of generative art, investigate the parallels between design processes in engineering and the arts, include guest lectures and workshops from artists such as theater lighting expert Jane Cox, and field trips to engineering art studios such as Hypersonic. In 2016, the course was featured on the Princeton University website, and one of our students blogged about it.
“As a visual artist, I don’t normally work with physical things. So I learned a lot by working on this physical environment, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”
I worked closely with my co-instructors on developing the teaching materials for this course, worked one-on-one with students on open-ended projects ranging from motion capture, lighting, programming, and electronics prototyping, and co-taught the Visuals module on creating generative visual art using p5.js. You can take a look at past student projects from 2018, 2017, and 2016.
Expanding Access to Art & Technology
I have been closely involved with the development of the StudioLab, a creative technology studio and lab in Princeton University that opened doors in January 2016. Since 2017, the StudioLab has been run under the leadership of Sharon De La Cruz, Assistant Director of StudioLab Initiatives, and we've been exploring the idea of 'Serious Play'. The StudioLab fuses rapid prototyping tools such as 3d printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, pen plotting and electronics, with elements of theatrical and studio spaces such as LED theater lighting, motion capture, and movable chairs/tables. Under Sharon's initiative, the StudioLab now also houses a state-of-the-art 'soft station', where you can sew, embroider, print patterns onto fabrics, and create with wearable technology.
With my colleagues at the Council on Science and Technology, I work on creating a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for the community to experiment with art & technology. In addition to teaching academic classes in the space such as Transformations in Engineering and the Arts and Storytelling with Technology for Performance, we offer training, resources, workshops, community building events, and open hours for folks to tinker, experiment, and play. You can follow our adventures on Instagram and on our website
From Fall 2007 to Summer 2013, I was a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers University.
Physics for the Humanities and Social Sciences
In Spring 2013, along with Michael Manhart, Simon Knapen, and Deepak Iyer, (and under the guidance of Prof. Saurabh Jha), I taught Concepts of Physics for the Humanities and Social Sciences. This course was an experiment by the Rutgers Physics Department to allow four graduate students to completely re-design and teach the physics for non-majors course. Here's our syllabus and twitter feed.
In the couse, I taught approximately 100 students to use physics principles such as energy conservation to develop useful models and make order of magnitude estimates to quantitatively undertand our energy use, and assess whether the United States can meet its energy needs from renewable resources. We used David Mackay's excellent textbook, Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air.
We incorporated undergraduate learning assistants to facilitate peer discussion and collaboration, used iClickers & in-class workshops with PhET simulations for active learning, conducted case studies of local renewable energy projects such as the Rutgers Livingston Solar Farm, assigned blog post writing assignments where students critically assesses scientific claims, communicated science to a general audience, and peer reviewed each other's writing. We also video recorded our lectures and received teaching feedback from the undergraduate learning assistants and Prof. Saurabh Jha.
Our work was highlighted in the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Magazine, in the article, "For Students Dreading Science Class, a Quantum Leap Forward".
“In a high school physics course, they would’ve asked us to measure the velocity of a moving object,” said Chris Vowinkel, a first-year accounting student “In this course, it’s more like: ‘How can we use physics to make America more energy efficient?’”
New York Academy of Science / Citizen Schools
In 2011, I was an Education Fellow at the New York Academy of Sciences and mentored middle-school students in a low-income community in Newark, NJ in partnership with Citizen Schools. I held weekly after-school workshops for a semester, where students built pinhole cameras, built and launched bottle rockets, raced balloon-powered rocket cars, and built their own spectroscopes and telescopes. I used demos, kinesthetic activities, videos and classroom games as teaching tools.
Shake, Rattle & Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance
In Summer 2012, I taught high school students how to build stable, self balancing, two-wheeled robots starting from basic electronic components, in a three-week long summer workshop in the New Jersey Governor's School of Science, Engineering and Technology. I believe that Arduinos have a huge potential to introduce non-science and non-engineering majors to concepts in science, and to lure students into the exciting world of building and programming their own machines. Owing to its popularity, this elective workshop continued to be offered by other instructors in the Governor's School until 2015.
Here's a video of our first prototype.
"I thought Shake, Rattle, and Roll was an amazing class, and probably my favorite [elective]. I enjoyed doing something that was hands-on, learning through actually doing, failing, and then fixing."
Want to learn more? Here's my teaching material and syllabus for Shake, Rattle & Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance, taught in the New Jersey Governor's School of Science, Engineering and Technology.
I have taught physics to approximately 580 undergraduate students, in the following courses. In 2010, I was awarded the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for my work teaching Honors Physics.
- *Physics 106: Physics for the humanities and social sciences, Spring 2013
- Physics 193: Physics for the Sciences I, Fall 2012 (Recitation and Lab)
- *Shake, Rattle & Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance, New Jersey Governor's School, Summer 2012
- Physics 204: General Physics II, Summer 2010
- Physics 272: Honors Physics II, Spring 2010
- Physics 271: Honors Physics I, Fall 2009
- Physics 203: General Physics I, Summer 2009
- Physics 124: Analytical Physics I-B, Spring 2009 (Recitation and mini-labs)
- Physics 193: Physics for the Sciences I, Fall 2008
- Physics 203: General Physics I, Summer 2008
- Physics 115: Extended Analytical Physics I, Fall 2007
- Physics Clinic, Swarthmore College, Fall 2005 and Spring 2006
* = Instructor Position