The university’s large introductory physics classes can be daunting to students, especially those who had limited exposure to the discipline in high school. In collaboration with others, Susan Nossal founded the Physics Learning Center 14 years ago to create a welcoming space for these students. The concept began as the Physics Peer Mentor Tutor Program, now the center’s core. Each semester, carefully trained undergraduates and staff members assist more than 150 students, many experiencing challenging circumstances inside and outside the classroom. The students develop confidence not only in physics, but in university life in general. Some go on to become tutors in the program themselves. Nossal sets a warm tone. Her caring demeanor and devotion to social justice foster powerful connections with students who may feel isolated or frustrated. Tenacious and resourceful, she’s grown the center into a forceful vehicle for student success.
Photo: Susan Nossal works on optical calculations with undergraduate students Matthew McAllister and Hanna Khan in a classroom at Chamberlin Hall.
Photo Credit: Jeff Miller