Assistant Professor of Physics
Dever Norman wants his students to feel well connected to the process of learning, but he admits that his teaching style is anything but structured.
“I always try to bring them to the table where curiosity rules, and then we can learn together,” he said. “It’s not so much about teaching physics, it’s about teaching them how to keep learning.
Norman said critical thinking is one of the most valuable lessons he can teach physics students.
“They usually don’t believe me, but I always welcome them to challenge my statement in class,” he said. “I want them to learn that debating things doesn’t have to be negative – it can be fun and beneficial to all involved.”
Norman was raised in Arkansas, but was unfamiliar with Henderson State. Years later, when he sought a teaching position here, he visited the campus and was quickly impressed.
“The campus immediately felt lovely and pleasant,” he said. “In retrospect, I had only begun to see the charm.”
After a “rocky” start to his first attempt at an undergraduate degree, Norman quit school in 1996.
“I was confused and in turmoil,” he said.
Seven years later, Norman enrolled at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and completed his B.S. in physics in 2007. He earned his Ph.D. in applied sciences with an emphasis in physics from UALR in 2014 as he joined the Henderson faculty.
Norman finds teaching at the college level to be a satisfying career choice.
“I like that this is where people are injected into the world,” he said. “Students are figuring themselves out and learning to become responsible members of the world. I have a lot of freedom to assist that process, tying my subject to all the other wonderful disciplines out there.”
Norman said “the sky is the limit” for physics students.
“You can specialize, of course, but everyone has to be pretty well-rounded in mathematics and theory, in circuits and technology, in experimental design and analysis, in mechanical understanding and dynamics, and more,” he said. “Employers often like hiring physics majors because they have a background in creatively solving problems without giving up.”
If he hadn’t joined the teaching profession, Norman said he would “definitely” be working in a lab.
“Maybe a NASA research center or an industry research facility,” he said.
Norman said he has always been interested in art, music, human behavior, cooking, Eastern philosophy, kung fu and Taiji.
“And I’m a really social person,” he said. “Perhaps I’d actually be good at one of them if I ever concentrated my time.”
Engineering and Physics
Degree and School:
Ph.D. in Applied Sciences, Emphasis in Physics, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
• Solar cell technology
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