A Legacy of Excellence
Since its inception, Southern Nazarene University has strived for excellence in the sciences, a hallmark that would not be possible without a foundation of committed and passionate faculty. One such faculty member is Dr. Ed Neuenschwander, who has served the SNU community as a physics professor for nearly thirty years. During his time at SNU, Dr. Neuenschwander has not only garnered a reputation as a scholar in his field but also among students for his zeal for science and life.
Dr. Neuenschwander’s ability to inspire students is largely due to his own journey and the invaluable contributions of peers, role models, and mentors along the way. Originally an engineering major, Dr. Neuenschwander was sitting in a theoretical mechanics class when he discovered that physics had a story line. He identifies this as the moment when he walked through the door of physics and never looked back.
The plot of physics and its ability to answer the why questions resonated with the literature appreciator instilled in him by an 8th grade English teacher. Similarly, a freshman chemistry professor was paramount in encouraging Dr. Neuenschwander, affirming that he could succeed in the sciences. He was also inspired by an upper-division physics professor was unafraid to do physics in real time, thinking on his feet in front of the class. These authentic teaching styles left a lasting impression that evidences itself in Dr. Neuenschwander’s classroom today.
For faculty at SNU, however, investment in students’ lives goes beyond the classroom, and Dr. Neuenschwander is no exception. “I learn more from my students than they learn from me,” he says. Long van rides on field trips with physics majors enable conversations about life, and his general education Science, Technology, and Society course requires students to engage with complex and relevant issues.
The significance of these conversations is not lost on Dr. Neuenschwander, who works to stay relevant in his field so he can continue to challenge students and prepare them for success. His column, “Elegant Connections in Physics,” a collection of over a hundred articles showing one physics concept leading to another and peppered with amusing inferences and applications, has been featured in the Society of Physics Students and the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society magazines. Additionally, he has published a book on Noether’s theorem (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011), will release a second book this October, Tensor Calculus for Physics: A Concise Guide (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014), and is currently transcribing discussions with Science, Technology, and Society students into a third book.
Dedication and expertise of faculty like Dr. Neuenschwander is key in developing the potential of SNU science students. The J.D. & Mary West Science Laboratory will equip professors with the resources to match their proficiency. About opportunities afforded by expansion of the new facility, Dr. Neuenschwander adds, “Anyone can do much with much. But it takes creativity and passion to consistently do much with little. The faculty at SNU consistently do much with little. Having learned how to do that, what would happen if the resources available to them caught up with their dreams?”
Continued development of SNU’s science facilities will equip professors to best transform their passion for science into exceptional classroom instruction, building upon the foundation of excellence laid by current resources.
Book - The Spirit of Emmy Noether