CAS Associate Dean returns to Physics and Astronomy Department as Chair

The Physics and Astronomy department says a huge congratulations and good luck to the class of 2018! We are sad to see you leave our halls but so excited to see where you go from here! To the remaining classes and the incoming class of 2022, welcome to Appalachian State and welcome to the Physics and Astronomy Department!

As we bid farewell to our seniors, we will also welcome Dr. Jennifer L. Burris as the new department chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy beginning June first.

Burris started at Appalachian in 2007 as a visiting assistant professor. She was the graduate program director for the MS in Engineering Physics for three years and in the last 20 months, Burris has served as an Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Burris received her Bachelor of Science degree in applied science with a concentration in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and both her M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Colorado State University.

Starting college, Burris was contemplating a career as either a journalist or medicine, however, she took a physics class during her first semester as an undergrad and really loved it.

"I had an amazing high school physics teacher who made me realize that I had an innate love for physics and the way the universe works. It was because of him that I decided to take a physics class in college," Burris said. "Something about understanding how things work is fascinating to me"

As she looks forward to returning to the physics department, Burris is most excited to work directly with students in a way that she isn't able to as an associate dean. With a good understanding of how difficult college can be, physics specifically, she is ready to help students manage the challenge.

"When I first started college, my head was not in the right place and I did not do well," Burris said. "In fact, I failed out of college at one point and ended up taking two years off of school. Even once I was more dedicated to my studies, I really struggled with physics."

Burris recognizes the amount of support students need to succeed in college and her goal is to make sure she can provide that for them.

"Physics is hard and was really hard for me when I was a student, but it was something that I really loved so I put the time and energy into learning it," Burris said. "I am a firm believer that with enough dedication, anyone can be a physics major!"

Five Fun Facts about Dr. Burris:

  • Favorite movie: Star Wars (the original trilogy)
  • Favorite movie snack: Popcorn
  • Favorite place to vacation: the beach
  • Favorite pizza topping: Veggies
  • Favorite dessert: Chocolate Cake
Published: May 10, 2018 10:22am