New professors take campus by storm

Justin Berkowitz

This is the first in a series of articles introducing new professors on campus. Look for more in future issues!As the new school year begins at Lawrence, there are approximately 430 students setting foot onto this campus for the first time.
While not as numerous, there are roughly 12 new professors on campus – each bringing their own unique experience to Lawrence.
One of these new professors is Megan Pickett, Associate Professor of Physics, focusing on astronomy. A graduate of Cornell University in New York, she completed her master’s and doctoral work at Indiana University Bloomington.
Following her studies, Pickett worked for NASA for four years and went on to teach at Valparaiso University and Purdue University Calumet before coming to Lawrence.
Pickett was initially drawn to Lawrence based on her own experience with liberal arts colleges.
“I grew up around liberal arts colleges – my father was a university administrator and eventually president of a college – and so I have always wanted to teach at one,” she says.
Her interest in astronomy was brought about in her preteen years after a visit to the library. “When I was 12, I checked out a book from the school library on the constellations,” Pickett explains. “The book was H.A. Rey’s “The Stars: A New Way to See Them.” The night I finished the book, I went outside into the snow and looked up, and for the first time, I could actually see the constellations. I decided that night I wanted to be an astronomer.”
Looking back at her college experience, Pickett remembers meeting her future ex-spouse and throwing up in her freshman seminar on Cold War politics. She blames this incident on nerves, the flu and 51 hours of working on two separate papers.
Another professor new to Lawrence is Jake Frederick, Assistant Professor of History with a focus on Mexican and Latino history.
Frederick received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and his doctorate from Penn State.
“[Teaching] beats working for a living,” said Frederick on why he chose to become a professor. “I get to hoot and holler and people have to listen.”
A large part of Frederick choosing to work at Lawrence was the unorthodox interview he had here. “I was just myself and they seemed to like who I was, which seemed important,” he explains.
Frederick says most of his college memories include “going around and goofing off with my friends.”
So far, Frederick likes Appleton and the Lawrence community, claiming to have learned more here in 10 days than in his entire life.
Elizabeth Carlson, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History, comes to Lawrence fresh from her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, which followed her undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Initially, Carlson didn’t want to go into teaching, but fell into it during grad school. “I started as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota and realized that it was what I love to do,” she says.
Despite beginning her teaching career as a T.A. at a large school, Carlson was drawn toward a small liberal arts college for several reasons.
“I like teaching at a small school because I liked the idea of knowing my students,” she said. “A smaller environment allows students an opportunity to be more comfortable, ask more questions and learn more.”
“Learning the Lawrence student is a challenge,” she said on her impressions thus far. “I am still trying to figure out who my students are, what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.”
Carlson’s favorite college memories include an early film course she took and meeting her husband in art history class.
While all three of these new professors are still adjusting to life at Lawrence, they all say that they feel the Lawrence community has warmly embraced them.