Grady Ballenger Series

How I tripped and stumbled through research: lessons and reflections

Dr. Michael Jackson, Dean, College of Science and Technology, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

My faculty-mentored research experience was the most transformative, influential, and memorable element of my undergraduate education.  The knowledge I gained and the skills I began developing during that period enhanced my education, assisted in my growth as a scientist, and in no small part helped shaped my career.  In this presentation, I will provide a cursory summary of my research experiences related to the investigation of stable molecules and free radicals using a variety of infrared and far-infrared lasers.  I will also discuss the agony surrounding my doubts and failures along with highlighting what my students and I did to turn those stumbles into successes.

Dr. Michael Jackson is presently founding Dean for the College of Science and Technology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.  Previously, Dr. Jackson was a member of the physics faculty at Central Washington University, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the State University of West Georgia.  He was Chairperson of the Department of Physics at Central Washington University from 2007 – 2013 and at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse from 2006 – 2007.  He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from New Mexico State University and a B.Sc. from the State University of New York, College at Oswego in Physics and Mathematics.

 Dr. Jackson’s service includes four elected terms as Councilor for the Physics and Astronomy Division at the Council on Undergraduate Research, where he has served in several capacities including as member of the Executive Board, Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Division, co-Chair of the Posters on the Hill committee, and co-Chair of the CUR Fellows committee.  He served two elected terms as President of the Washington Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers and an elected term as Chair of the Academic Department Chairs Organization at Central Washington University.  During Dr. Jackson’s term as Department Chairperson at Central Washington University, the physics program grew significantly, approximately quadrupling the number of physics majors and repeatedly producing double-digit graduating physics classes.  The success of the program has been recognized on the national level as a ‘rising’ thriving physics program.

Dr. Jackson’s research interests include the discovery of far-infrared laser emissions, the measurement of their frequencies, and their use in conducting high-resolution spectroscopic investigations of stable molecules and short-lived free radicals.  His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA’s Space Grant program, Research Corporation, and the American Chemical Society.  He has co-authored over 40 publications, many of which included undergraduate student co-authors.  Awards that he has received include the Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers and the David Halliday and Robert Resnick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching from the American Association of Physics Teachers.  He is also a Fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers.