PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century
David A. Boness
F21 Class of 1994 Statements Revisited
Question: What are the current challenges you are facing in your professional life?
Answer: Currently, I am facing two major professional challenges. One is the important task of doing whatever I can to influence my institution's administration to invest the large sums necessary for a complete modernization and expansion of science facilities, so that we can have better research space for undergraduates working with faculty, and so that students and faculty can collaborate and work in a stimulating, well-designed environment. The other is the challenge of a moderate shift in research scope from high-pressure and deep-Earth geophysics to atmospheric physics and global climate change.
Question: What do you view as your most promising options and opportunities for the future?
Answer: I enjoy talking to and working with colleagues of all ages and levels of experience, and I want to do what I can to make the research and teaching environment better for them. Seattle University is an excellent place to be a faculty member, but there are always ways to improve. In research, I am enjoying getting involved with the key societal problem of understanding the extremely complex physics of atmospheric aerosols and clouds with regard to optical interactions and resultant effects on climate. At an institution without graduate students, I do not expect to make major contributions to this field, but I do have some relevant background in experimental optics and in geophysics. .
Question: What will undergraduate STEM be like in 2016, given the urgency of new challenges and opportunities facing our nation?
Answer: In spite of increased K-12 emphasis on mathematics and science education and testing, it appears that fewer American college students are choosing the most rigorous science and engineering courses of study. The biological sciences have reached the level of maturity that requires extensive physics, mathematics, and computational background. Technology is more complex than ever, yet engineering programs are too often cutting out difficult physics-related courses in favor of other courses that do not give the necessary background in electromagnetism, quantum physics, and thermodynamics essential for understanding new (and recent) technology, and for seeing how to develop new technologies. The United States is in real danger of becoming a second-rate science and technology power if the attractiveness of our higher education institutions is ever eroded through budgetary constraints or superior competition abroad, or if we cannot retain foreign-born students in STEM disciplines as employees in academia and industry.