By Taylor Brown, Correspondent
Dr. Andri Gretarsson is an associate professor of physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus, encouraging students to pursue their passion for understanding the physical world. From gravitational wave observation to optical science, Gretarsson plays an essential role in students’ education in physics.
Gretarsson believes his interest in physics began with philosophy and being curious about the overarching themes and laws that govern the physical universe. He said that he ”found that physics would answer those questions about our place in the universe.”
After graduating from Syracuse University with a master’s in Physics and a doctorate in Philosophy in Physics, Gretarsson was hired as a research scientist at California Institute of Technology. He also worked on commissioning the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), eventually bringing the project with him to Embry-Riddle. Over 100 schools participate in LIGO research, investigating how large events in the universe impact the fabric of spacetime.
At Embry-Riddle, Gretarsson is known for teaching comprehensive and engaging physics laboratory classes. Gretarsson told Horizons that “teaching wasn’t the thing I came to physics for, but I found that it might be quite interesting to learn how to teach properly.” He currently leads beginning and intermediate physics labs for the college of arts and sciences as well as engineers. He also leads senior research projects.
Since the beginning of his teaching career, Gretarsson has found working with students to be a rewarding practice. The professor says one of the most gratifying aspects of his teaching career has been working with “students who were already at the level of expertise in which most students graduate, I was able to take them to the masters level.” More than anything, Gretarsson is grateful to “have a job thinking about and discussing physics,” and exploring the great physical laws of the cosmos.
Gretarsson encourages students to continue asking questions and working to find answers. “If you want to study physics, you need to be willing to learn as much as possible,” Gretarsson tells aspiring physicists, “there’s an awful lot that is not understood.”