Erik Dunmire, Ph.D.

| Chemistry & Engineering

   
Home Page Image of Erik and Wind Turbine
 

 

  Physical Sciences Dept
  Engineering Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I cannot teach anyone anything. I can only make them think."
Socrates
 
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
Albert Einstein

 


   

MY PROFILE

Bio in Brief

Educational Philosophy

Personal Side

On Sabbatical

 

Bio in Brief

History at COM  In 2000, I officially entered the College of Marin Faculty with a joint appointment in Chemistry and Engineering.  As the sole full-time faculty member appointed to Engineering, I have since that time been the defacto program coordinator as well as the instructor of most of the college's ENGG courses (including Intro/Careers, Circuits, Statics, and Materials).  In Chemistry, my instructional responsibilities have primarily involved the General Chemistry sequence (CHEM 131 & 132) and the "Non-Majors" course (CHEM 105), which I developed into an Internet-based course starting in Fall 2003.  In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I have served in various leadership roles within the department and the institution, including Chair of the Physical Sciences Department from 2002-2005, Interim Dean of the Math & Sciences Division in 2006-2007, and in various Coordinator and Committee Membership positions.

Pre-COM   I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida, and both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis. My graduate research involved the study of transport phenomena in biological systems relevant to the development of contraceptive drug delivery technologies. I spent several years as a post-doc and then faculty member in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Duke University in North Carolina conducting research and teaching (as well as watching and playing a lot of basketball). Afterwards, I experimented with a number of different career paths in the private and public sectors, but finally discovered my true destiny as a teacher, and here I am...

For more details regarding my professional training and experience, please see my Curriculum Vitae.

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Educational Philosophy

The more time that I spend working and teaching in the sciences, the greater becomes my own passion for learning, and the more fascinated I become with the wonders of the world around us.  I find it incredibly satisfying to share that knowledge and sense of wonder with others, and for that reason as well as many others, I am hooked on teaching for life.

I believe that learning in any field, but especially in the sciences and engineering, is about much more than an accumulation of knowledge.  It is about developing a particular set of abilities and a way of "seeing" the world.   Learning, like science itself, is an enterprise of discovery, requiring that its practitioners are engaged, curious, and open minded.  Reading about it or watching someone else do it are no more effective as ways to learn science than they would be to learn tennis or the guitar.  While theory and demonstration are useful as adjuncts, they can never replace the active and personalized learning that occurs during practice.  Consequently, I expect students in my courses to do most of the "work" of learning, both inside and outside the classroom.  I am only there as a coach.

Because of all the practice that is required, and because of the relative complexity of the material, science and engineering education requires a great deal of dedication by the student.  It is therefore understandable that some students might be hesitant to expend the time and effort needed for proficiency unless they are reasonably confident of its value.  Hence, I feel that one of my important responsibilities as a teacher is to inspire and motivate my students to learn, to convince them not only of the value of scientific understanding, but of its pricelessness.  I attempt to do this in my courses not only by demonstrating the day-to-day relevance of the material, but also by helping students to understand how the course material relates to the larger body of their own knowledge, to human knowledge in general, and to fulfilling our most pressing societal needs.

Finally, I try as much as possible to maintain an air of intellectual playfulness in my classroom, and (within reason) to let the students' interests and curiosity drive the evolution of my "lectures".  After all, science, learning, even life itself, is an unpredictable adventure.  Why not enjoy it and have some fun!

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Personal Side

These days, aside from and in fact more than my profession, my identity is largely defined by my role as a husband and proud father of two (photo).  I've discovered that 'daddyhood' brings a unique perspective on this journey through life, and both consumes and fills each waking moment of the day (and note that the day has a lot more waking moments than it used to).  Although the opportunities are far less frequent now, I also still manage to enjoy some of my pre-parental pursuits, which include travel, various mountain-related outdoor activities, and playing recreational soccer.  For more details and photos of my "extracurricular activities", see my Time 4 Fun page.

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On Sabbatical

I recently completed a sabbatical leave during the 2007-2008 academic year, investigating the current status and future prospects for achieving energy sustainability. Much of that time, I was in Sweden evaluating their comparative progress toward a more sustainable society, with the hope of finding some insights and opportunities for collaborative learning.  Read more about my sabbatical work here.

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Copyright 2008 Erik Dunmire                  erik.dunmire@marin.edu                  Last updated: September 3, 2008