Science has long interested Steuard Jensen, who credits seeing stars during a childhood camping trip with shaping this passion at an early age. Growing up, he pored over books about astrophysics and Albert Einstein before going on to earn his doctorate in physics at the University of Chicago.
Today, the associate professor of physics at Alma College describes himself as a “science nerd.”
“I’ve always been curious about the world around me,” he says. “The universe is an astounding place, and I want to know what makes it tick.”
Unlike science, teaching came as somewhat of a surprise to Jensen. While completing his bachelor’s degree at Harvey Mudd College, he often found himself helping friends with their physics homework. Over time, he became his dorm’s go-to tutor for physics.
“I learn so much from helping others,” he says. “I think physics is awesome, so it’s such a thrill to see someone else catch a hint of that feeling. In the end, I teach because I have to. I can’t not teach!”
Jensen’s research focuses on string theory and M-theory, which aim to describe all the fundamental features of nature in a single, unified mathematical framework. He has attended international string theory conferences and presented at professional conferences and for university colloquiums and the general public.
“I study extra dimensions in string theory,” he says. “T-duality is the cool idea that an extra dimension curled up in a small circle has the same physics as an extra dimension curled up into a larger circle.”
After spending three years as a visiting assistant professor of physics at the joint science department at Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, Jensen began teaching at Alma in 2009.
“I thoroughly enjoy teaching the entire physics curriculum,” he says. “Every single class lets me teach beautiful things about the universe.”
In addition to his teaching and research on physics, Jensen is currently serving a term as Associate Provost, which keeps him entirely too busy. When he’s not working on campus, Jensen spends his time helping his baby daughter explore the universe closer to home. He’s also a classical music enthusiast and a J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings scholar.
Ph.D., Physics, The University of Chicago (2006)
B.S., Physics & Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College (1998)
My career at Alma began in
I'm an expert in
My research is in string theory, a speculative mathematical formalism that we hope might one day prove to be a “theory of everything”. My recent work has involved studying string theory dualities using a new formalism called “doubled geometry”.
Aug. 2021: “Counting microstates of the p-state paramagnet”, PICUP Capstone Conference on the use of computation in teaching undergraduate physics.
Other recent accomplishments:
“This man volunteered to take notes at a conference. He never expected to go viral,” NBC News Know Your Value.