BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College’s Faculty Friday series was launched in an effort to connect current and prospective students, staff, and alumni with our distinguished faculty members, who are actively involved in the betterment of our students and institution, both inside and outside of the classroom.
We would like to introduce our eighth spotlight- Professor of Physics Dr. Bob Spangler. To get to know Spangler better, read his Q&A below.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: B.S. in physics with a concentration in environmental studies at The Rochester Institute of Technology; M.S. in theoretical plasma physics from WVU; Ph.D. in theoretical fluid dynamics from WVU.
Q: Why should prospective students pursue a degree in physics?
A: It’s fun! Physics, or natural philosophy, is ultimately a study of how humans see the universe. In that regard, it’s pretty powerful magic, no matter what you’re trying to do. But even if you’re not trying to overcome some seemingly insurmountable task, it’s still just a lot of fun.
Q: Everyone has a reason for doing what they love. Many times, this is referred to as your “why”- some people say their “why” was a calling from childhood, while others say their “why” is for fulfilling a greater life purpose. What is your “why” for being a part of Bethany College’s faculty?
A: Our school is full of people who live and breathe knowledge. In addition, our founder stated Bethany’s goal as encouraging “… students to become useful and responsible members of society by liberating them from superstition and ignorance, the tyranny of others, and “vulgar prejudices.” What more could you ask for?
Q: If you had only one word to represent Bethany College and what the College means to you, what would that one word be?
Q: You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life. What is it?
A: Clean water.
Q: If you were stuck on a deserted island, what are the 3 items you would take with you?
A: A knife, a lighter, and a good attitude!
Q: What are your hobbies and passions?
A: The river (especially whitewater), music, food and wine, clever ideas, conservation, friendship, playing in the woods, history, and all the good things in life.
Q: If you had a time machine, would you go into the future or back in history, and why?
A: Good question! My knee-jerk response is to do both, but I don’t think that’s in keeping with the spirit of the question. If we’re making me choose, I would go back in time. I would like to understand the various underlying world views throughout human history. But then I’d just keep going. It would be fun to see the different animals in different stages of adapting to their environments. But then I’d still keep going. I’d love to see the Earth before it could support life (yeah, this might be problematic, but it’s my fantasy now!). I’d love to see the moon rotating, maybe check out different eras of it becoming tidally locked with the Earth. But why stop there? We could go to pre-Earth times and patiently wait for the sun to ignite and planets to form through the slow accretion of matter via gravity. At some point, I’d probably come back for pizza and beer, and I bet it would all taste a little different…
Q: What’s your favorite course to teach and why?
A: It depends a lot on the students involved. But all other things being equal, Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos is a really fun class. It’s about seeking physical insight into systems for which analytical solutions aren’t available. It also brings several topics together under the same descriptions. For example, did you know that frog populations in a pond can look an awful lot like a mass on a spring? And everyone loves some good chaos!
A:If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Q: Speak Spanish! They once laughed me out of Costa Rica because my Spanish is so bad.
A: If you could be another professor for a day, who would you be and why?
Q: It’s hard to pick just one. We’re lucky to be surrounded by so many great spirits! But if I have to go with one, I’m going with Professor Lawless. She is incredibly compassionate and seeks to spread friendship and good tidings. Then, just when you think she’s that nice and has your best interest in mind, WHAM! She’ll prank you! Rotten to the core, I tell ya. With all that said, I admire her sense of compassion, her humanity, and in particular, her outstanding sense of humor!