Meet the Professor: Todd Rutkowski Todd Rutkowski joined the Physics Department in the summer of 2020.
Professor Todd Rutkowski is a new member of the Washington and Lee University Physics Department. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from The College at Brockport, and he earned his doctorate in condensed matter physics from Binghamton University.
Before he joined W&L in the summer of 2020, Rutkowski worked at Radford University as a post-doctoral teaching fellow. His work there was focused on applying policies in the classroom that aim to increase the enrollment and retention of students of underrepresented identities in STEM.
We asked Professor Rutkowski some more questions about himself. Keep reading to learn more about his research, passion and what he does in his spare time.
Q: What first attracted you to Washington and Lee University?
Having the opportunity to work with extremely intelligent and motivated students was a major draw for me. I also love the atmosphere of our small, historic campus. Walking the Colonnade on my way in to work every morning—especially as the leaves begin to change for fall—is something that I hope never gets old.
Q: What are you teaching this fall?
This fall I am teaching introductory physics, and this winter I will be teaching upper-level classes on statistical physics and electromagnetism.
Q: What are your research interests?
For my graduate work, I performed computational studies on the magnetic behaviors of extremely cold gases, looking for the appearance of a rare phase of matter called a quantum spin liquid. Currently, in my role as instructor of physics, I am primarily focused on teaching and service, so my research often sits on the back burner until summer comes around. That said, I certainly wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to mentor a student in research if they happened to be interested in my work.
Q: Aside from teaching, what’s something that you’re passionate about? What do you do for fun?
I watch a lot of professional soccer and am a huge Liverpool FC fan. I also play guitar and enjoy writing and recording songs in my home office.
Q: What is your favorite movie or book? Why?
“Dune” by Frank Herbert is a favorite book of mine (and a science fiction classic) that I am currently re-reading, in hopes that the movie adaptation finally does it justice.
Q: As a student, what was the best piece of advice you were given?
Although I’ve had many amazing professors in my time as a student, no one piece of advice sticks out. Instead, something I will never forget is when I was struggling with calculus early on and was told by an adviser that I was “not a calculus person.” After getting my doctorate in a branch of science where I was using calculus every day, I can confidently tell students that following their passion and believing in themselves are the true keys to success. And if they’re short on belief in themselves, they can come visit me at my office in Howe 205, as I’m always happy to give some out for free!
Q: Share a fun fact about yourself.
My wife, Charity Corman, also works here at W&L as an administrative assistant in the English Department.
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