Working as a faculty member at the Norton School, I am responsible for providing a first-class learning experience for my undergraduate as well as my graduate students. When I came to Arizona from my home country, Germany, in 2008, I encountered vast differences in the educational systems that translate into differing expectations, achievements and desires of students, faculty and society. Living and working here, as well as profiting from UA’s constructive environment, is a great learning experience for me. My experiences provide me with an opportunity to reflect on, adapt to and shape this new environment I find myself in. This might also explain the characteristics I greatly value in my students: creativity, determination, a penchant for critical reflection and a positive attitude toward change.
I believe that we all can and should make a difference–by actions, not proclamations. As a researcher, it is humbling to realize how little difference we actually make with most of our projects and publications, aiming at a selected few reviewers and readers. However, we can achieve significantly more if we try to focus on what our expertise and curiosity can do for the society that we are an integral part of. I strongly believe that research is critical for a flourishing society and economy and that education is one of the most important values a government and its citizens need to uphold.
My favorite pastime is hiking Arizona’s mountains and canyons. I do “triple rims,” crossing the Grand Canyon twice in a day (if all goes well…). But I also like to pause and enjoy the beauty of this land—beauty that lies within its biggest features, such as the rugged “GC” but also within its smallest inhabitants, such as wildflowers and birds. Arizona is home to 18 species of hummingbirds. They are magnificent creatures: cute and pretty; fierce and resilient; a humbling wonder of “natural technology." Getting “buzzed” by one of these tiny skyrockets in my backyard makes my day.