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Thomas helps students succeed in physics

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Brian Thomas has been a physics and astronomy professor at Washburn for 14 years.

When Thomas first started his education at the University of Kansas, he originally wanted to work in the engineering field. After taking a few courses in the engineering department, he decided to go into physics. 

“I decided I was less interested in building things and more interested in understanding the fundamentals of how they work,” said Thomas. “I decided to go into physics because it is more about explaining things.”

Thomas found that physics was able to answer some of these questions and was a much better fit for him and his interests. While he was in college, he did some tutoring which led to him finding his passion for teaching. 

“I did some tutoring, which I found to be a good opportunity to learn more and also help other people,” said Thomas.

The science field at Washburn is known for being challenging for many students. To succeed in Thomas’ class, communication is necessary. 

“I think the biggest thing that makes a difference in my class is to ask for help. Usually, when a student is struggling I can get them to a point where they are okay but I also find that a lot of them are afraid or unwilling to ask for some reason,” said Thomas. 

Thomas also said that putting in the right amount of effort is key to success in his class. He expects his students to put the time and necessary work into his classes in order to succeed.  

 “A lot of people in college really underestimate the time it is going to take, and being able to manage time makes a big difference,” said Thomas.

Alexander Michael Yelland, senior physics & engineering major, has taken three classes with Thomas. Yelland also knows Thomas through being a summer orientation counselor and through doing research with him.

“Dr. Thomas knows how to connect the theory and the mathematics to make it understandable,” said Yelland. “The way he bridges the gap between these gives a perception to see the actual physical world and relating it to how it actually can help you in your physics career is what I like the most about him.”

Cody Ratterman, junior computational physics major, has taken theoretical mechanics, introduction to theoretical physics and now he is taking thermodynamics with Thomas. 

“I plan to take more classes with Dr. Thomas and definitely recommend his classes to other students as well,” said Ratterman. 

Ratterman likes that Thomas is enthusiastic about the material that he teaches and is good at teaching it and helping the students engage. 

“Dr. Thomas is a really understanding and logical teacher,” said Ratterman. “He really takes time to make sure you know the material and is also willing to help you whenever you need any help.”

Much of Thomas’ time outside of teaching is devoted to taking care of his young son. He also spends much of his time biking. Thomas rides his bike to Washburn everyday as long as the weather allows. Thomas spends a lot of his time reading science fiction novels as well. His favorite classic series is the Dune series written by Frank Hurbert. However, his favorite modern author is Jack McDevitt. 

Edited by Adam White, Jada Johnson, Jason Morrison

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