Associate Professor of Physics
At Knox Since: 2005
Mark Shroyer has been teaching introductory physics, modern physics,
classical dynamics, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics, and physics
of sports at Knox since 2005. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. from Oregon
University and his bachelor's from Truman State University.
Generally speaking, I knew I wanted to teach at a residential liberal arts college. It was an educational experience that I valued as a student and believe in as a parent and educator. I knew that I wanted to teach at a relatively small school. I knew that it would be important to me to get to know students and see their development. I have family in Missouri. My wife has family in North Dakota. After graduate school on the west coast and a post-doc in Atlanta, it was important to us that we be within driving distance of our children's grandparents, if possible.
Specifically, when I interviewed at Knox I felt that it was a wonderful fit. One thing that stood out above all others was my lunch with the students. They were very impressive. It was my impression that students at Knox took their education seriously and enjoyed doing so. I sensed dedicated faculty in the physics department. This view further reinforced by my meeting with students.
All these things left me excited to come to Knox. These things remain important to me and leave me enthusiastic about the prospect of dedicating my professional life to this institution.
What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
I have been an active member of the "Noon Basketball Association," a group of mostly faculty and staff, playing since my first day on campus. Jamie Bjorkman '57 is the longest running NBA participant and the unofficial leader of the group. He is a strong supporter of Prairie Fire athletics and solicits donations from the NBA each year for Knox. I received one such solicitation from Jamie my first week. I'll confess that the solicitation sat in my locker for more than a week, as I wanted to receive a paycheck before I began making donations. Now Jamie may debate the details of what happened next, but these facts are indisputable. Fact: Jamie and I were on the same team. Fact: Somehow, Jamie and I collided. Fact: I ended up with a broken nose and nine stitches, he ended up with barely a scratch (did I mention class of '57!?). Fact: I taught my first classes at Knox looking quite a lot like a raccoon -- two black eyes and a swollen stitched up honker. Fact: I've always made my donations to the NBA in a timely fashion since and have managed not to have any more "collisions" with Mr. Bjorkman. Coincidence?
Describe your current research/creative work. What is most interesting about this work?
My recent research interests involve the investigation of magnetic interactions between magnetic moments of metal atoms (i.e. metal atoms that act as little magnets due to their unpaired electrons) in molecules. To characterize these magnetic interactions, one must measure the magnetization at a variety of temperatures and magnetic fields. One then must choose or develop a model based on the known molecular structure. A good fit between the model and the data allows one to infer something about the magnetic interactions within the molecules being studied.
Magnetic characterization, the determination of the type and strength of magnetic interactions between magnetic moments, is one of a number of important characterizations used by chemists to relate molecular structure to function. One example is the investigation of vanadium compounds. Vanadium compounds are interesting from a biochemical point of view because some serve to amplify the effects of insulin and therefore have applications in diabetic therapy. They are interesting from a physical point of view because the magnetic interaction is complex and cannot be modeled simplistically. Magnetic characterization of materials is exciting and stimulating, but the work remains accessible to motivated undergraduate students interested in research.
If you weren't a professor, you would be a . . . ?
I would probably be living in California building nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers and probes.
What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
My family and I really enjoy the Orpheum Theater. It is a community jewel and the first rate events offer wonderful entertainment opportunities that are rare for towns this size. We also enjoy the Blue Moonlight Drive-In. It is great family fun coupled with childhood nostalgia.
What were the last three books you read?
Physics of Basketball. Track and Field Dynamics. Physics of Skiing. In my defense, I'm teaching a new course. Can you guess what it is?
What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
I had a little champagne and went out to eat with my family at the Landmark.