Associate Professor of Physics at Rockhurst University
I've done a few different things. I went to school in Kirksville, MO and received my BS in Physics and Mathematics from Truman State University in 1998. After graduation, I briefly went to MIT but then quit and worked as a civil draftsman, network administrator and a web lackey until 2001 when I joined the Peace Corps with my wife. I taught Physics and Mathematics in Ghana, West Africa until 2003. After the Peace Corps we moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I wore many hats as PHP and .NET programmer, a firewall administrator, and database administrator. Most of my time was spent building information systems for the Wyoming department of Workforce Services. I quit and went to graduate school at the University of Rochester in 2008, where I did my Ph.D in Physics and Astronomy with Eric Mamajek, studying the star formation history of nearby OB associations, finding new members of associations, and studying the properties of pre-main sequence stars. I've been an Assistant Professor of Physics at Rockhurst University since 2013, where I am now. I teach introductory physics to engineering, and pre-health care students, as well as some upper-level engineering and physics courses and squeeze in some Astronomy Research as well. Whew!
Recently, Eric Mamajek and I have completed a survey for new solar-mass (~0.7 - 1M⊙) members of all three subgroups of Scorpius-Centaurus, the nearest site of recent massive star formation. That new work can be found here: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016MNRAS.461..794P Scorpius-Centaurus is an excellent place to learn about star formation, stellar evolution, and the formation and evolution of planetary systems because it contains thousands of stars of more-or-less the same age and chemical composition. It's also not too far away, so it is an excellent hunting ground for directly-imaged planets. In addition, the stars in Scorpius-Centaurus are at an interesting age - "young enough" to determine their ages to a meaningful degree, "young enough" so their jupiter-like planets are still puffy and therefore bright and easier to find, "young enough" so their "asteroid belts" are still producing lots of dust and are also easier to find.
I also have an active research program with undergraduates at Rockhurst University, where I teach. I always give students real projects that can (and should!) lead to publication in peer-reviewed scientific journal. I also try to make sure my students get multiple chances to present their research at conferences, both local and national/international conferences, where they can meet and talk with people who are very interested in their work.
The research I was involved in with my collaborators moved a bit faster when I was doing research 100% of the time, so some of these stories are a bit old, but nonetheless, I am still proud of this work.