“Hello. 반갑습니다!” When I went to his office to interview him, he greeted me with great smile. Students who are using the Science & Technology Building would probably know this gentleman. He is Douglas S. Leonard, a new professor in the Department of Physics. He came from Maryland, in the United States and he is currently teaching Introductory Physics to freshmen. Now, let’s find out what this new professor thinks about physics and what made him become a professor here in the University of Seoul (UOS).
Life in Korea He arrived in Korea in February 2010, a couple of weeks before his new life at the UOS started. Although he had been here only three months at the time I interviewed him, he seemed pretty accustomed to his new Korean life. Even though he didn’t know how to speak Korean yet, he was carefully accomplishing what he needed to do day to day with some help from his acquaintances, especially from his wife who is Korean. He and his wife first met each other when they were traveling in Tennessee in the U.S. five years ago. Although his wife is Korean, she lived in the U.K. Since she was 18, so she was more accustomed to western culture. That is why their move to Korea was a big leap for both of them. The fact that he had only spent a total of a few months outside of his country for work and traveling when he was in the U.S. made moving to Korea a big decision. He decided to work here because his wife’s family is all here in Korea and he and his wife knew people from Maryland who were familiar with the UOS. More importantly, with his wife and his two-year-old daughter he expects to understand his wife’s culture better.
As a Physicist “Why did you choose to study your major?” This is the question we are often asked when we enter universities. On teacher’s day, he also had asked his students the same question to see if they are going in the right direction. The main answers were related to the fact they were good at math and that they just liked physics. “That seems like a very simple and boring answer but I think that’s exactly the right answer for why the students chose physics, and that’s also why I chose physics,” he said. “If you’re good at something, that makes you easier to like it and if you like something, that makes you easier to be good at it. I don’t know which one caused the other, but sure I like physics and of course I was reasonably good at it,” he laughed. For students who want to be a physicist, he suggests that one should be realistic about the future. One can make much more money by being in finance or save more lives by being a doctor, but there are also good reasons to do other things. Therefore, if one truly wants to be a physicist, one has to first like what you do, and also be willing to devote one’s life to that. And I think it applies not only to physics but to any fields we want to study. As a physicist, he wants to explore things that are out there and to understand things better than what was understood before. And now that he has become a professor, he also has a lot of interest in inspiring young new physicists. Recently, he was working on getting his lab set up also in addition to being very busy teaching. “But that’s the usual task of being a new professor though, so it’s kind of fun!” he said cheerfully.
Teaching at the UOS He is now teaching Introductory Physics to freshmen in the Department of Physics. He enjoys introducing new students into the world of physics. He says that when working with freshmen, he sees a lot of same types of emotion on personal level about independence, ambition, worries, confusion, responsibilities, etc. He also says that students at the UOS seem to be very hard working. Though it has been only three months since he came to the UOS, he says that the university seems to really be working to always improve itself. A lot of investment is going on for the future UOS and its students are always striving to better themselves.
Through the interview, I felt that he is proud of being a physicist. The most important thing he told us is that we need a great passion, a firm will to devote ourselves into what we do. I could easily assume that he will successfully march along his way to a new life in the UOS as a professor. I hope to see many students inspired to become a great physicist by Professor Leonard in the future!