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Our department’s own Ben Levy, a 6th year graduate student in Professor Amy Oldenburg’s Coherence Imaging Laboratory, has been awarded the Tanner Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching by graduate teaching assistants. Ben teaches PHYS 281: Experimental Techniques in Physics. This laboratory-based course explores a variety of modern physics experiments and techniques, along with data and uncertainty analysis. Emphasis is placed on building written and oral communication skills for different audiences, and on collaborative group learning. Over the past 6 terms, he has had the good fortune of getting to co-teach the course twice with Prof. Robert Janssens, twice with Prof. Sean Washburn (and twice, alone). Adapting the course for online learning was a challenge! Most experiments involve large, expensive, or delicate equipment that could not simply be shipped to students’ homes! To make up for this, we developed a variety solutions including online video-based activities, remote control setups that allowed students to manipulate apparatus on campus, and at-home labs in which equipment was mailed to students.

For more information or pictures on Ben’s remote teaching please follow the link Teaching Experimental Techniques Remotely – Ben Levy (

In undergrad, he studied Physics at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. While there, he was fortunate to be taught by some excellent instructors including Profs. Marty Baylor and Jay Tasson. Their ability to make dense physics lectures fly by – to make sure every student was actually spending class engaging with the material rather than just watching a derivation – has been an important source of inspiration for him. Here at UNC he is working to develop a contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging modality called Magnetomotive Ultrasound Imaging with Prof. Oldenburg. They hope that this technique will open up ultrasound to new clinically-relevant imaging targets.

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