Professor of engineering and physics looks to expand TJC students’ knowledge and love of science through her work as a STEM Club adviser.
If you’ve ever walked the halls of Genecov, chances are you might have met Professor Jennifer Parsons. Parsons is a professor of engineering and physics as well as an adviser for the recently formed STEM Club. She has a passion for optics and guiding her students to achieve their full scientific potential.
Q: You’re a professor of physics and engineering at TJC, is there any particular part of those fields you enjoy?
A: Specifically in physics I got my PhD in optical sciences, so anything to
do with light and pretty colors is my favorite stuff.
Q: You went to university for optical sciences, can you elaborate on what that entails?
A: I got my bachelor’s in physics from Angelo State University and then I went on to grad school at University
of Arizona and they have one of the premier programs in the nation for optical sciences. And that has anything from building optics, so telescopes, microscopes, building the mirrors, building the lenses, designing lens combinations, we are combinations of optics, had a friend who worked on the James Webb telescope.
Q: You’re also an adviser for the recently formed STEM Club. Can you tell us how that came to be?
A: So really, Dr. Boucher has been a
big advocate for having a place for STEM students to interact and grow and learn, and so he really presented the idea. It’s been a team effort between myself and several other faculty, but we went through the process with Lauren Tyler and Student Life and had some
student interest and just kind of took off from there.
Q: You work with STEM Club students on independent research, what kind of research?
A: Hopefully this semester there will be an opportunity for TJC engineering students to work with UT Tyler engineering students and put together basically some electronics that will be used by a summer program with NASA.
Q: STEM Club often has Lunch and Learns available. Can you give us some examples of topics for upcoming meetings?
A: Rebecca Owens is going to be talking to us a little bit about a couple of volcanologists, so that who were
a couple and actually died in the field, doing what they loved, and so she’s going to talk a little bit about vulcanology and who they were.
Q: STEM Club is building a Tesla Coil some time in March. Can you explain more about this project?
A: Well, it’s, it’ll be an opportunity for us to build something that we can then use for demos at places like the Involvement Fair, or if and when we have a program for working with elementary students, or middle school students coming in and doing kind of hands-on activities and, or demo shows, really, but it’ll give students an opportunity to be on the building and have it.
Q: Outside of STEM, is there anything fun the department has going on for the semester?
A: We have star parties once a month. I say “we,” the planetarium has put some on, but there’s departmental involvement. So, the first Saturday of every month.
Q: As a TJC professor, what’s your favorite part in being involved in so much student activity?
A: I enjoy the student interaction. I remember as a student, how formative being a member of that sort of, I was in the society of physics students at Angelo State and that was, like I said, very formative for me. And I think that’s what I’m hoping that the STEM Club is.
Q: Is there anything you’d say to students thinking of trying out STEM?
A: I’d say try it, and if you don’t like it, then you’ve learned something.
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.