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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New science dean talks A&M, research

science+dean
Photo by Alexis Will
science dean

Battalion news reporter Josh Hopkins sat down with Meigan Aronson, who was named dean of the College of Science in early October, to talk about her vision for the college and how her first few weeks on campus have been.
THE BATTALION: What made you decide to accept the role of dean of the College of Science here at Texas A&M?
ARONSON: For the most part in the past, I’ve been an academic in that my activities have been like most of your professors — teaching and research. Although some time ago, at my former institution, I did have a job as an associate dean. So I already knew that I had an interest in administration, and it really comes from the fact that I have been in academia for my entire career — for 25 years now — and I have a real interest in how universities work. I’m very devoted and committed to the educational mission universities have and working with students, and so in an administrative position such as this, you really have the opportunity to address that  from a new angle. That is to try to put people together to do some new things, to try to make the case for new resources for the college that will allow us to do those things, and it really just gives you a completely new perspective from that of a faculty member.
THE BATTALION: Many students are concerned about the difficulty of College of Science introductory classes — what would you say to them?
ARONSON: My personal experience is that introductory classes are very difficult because you are not necessarily prepared to think in that way, and I think this is our biggest challenge as instructors — trying to make those classes accessible and exciting and give students positive experiences. Because the purpose is really to develop some sort of common language. It’s not that you really need to understand how things slide down ramps, but what you really do need to understand is the connection between mathematics and the description of physical objects … It’s really like learning a language — it’s really exciting, and it gives you new opportunities to use it in the future. And so if you can make it through the introductory classes, the world opens up to you after that point.
THE BATTALION: What do you hope to keep within the College of Science program?
ARONSON: We have basic core courses we offer and that’s how most students will connect to our college, and I think it’s important that our best and most enthusiastic teachers are really involved in that. I want to support them in any way that I can to make it exciting and to find the best parts of their fields to pass along to the students. Whether you are just passing through and this is your sole chance to learn about biology before you go off to your future life in computer science, or you are crazy for math and you just can’t get enough, I think we ought to understand our clients in that respect. And I think I really want to listen to the students closely, especially this year, to understand what it is they think about the program and what they would like to be seeing in their classes. And make sure that the faculty is aware of those wishes.
THE BATTALION: Your research interests are what brought you to Texas A&M. Could you tell me more about what that research is?
ARONSON: We work in the area of superconductivity. You know how copper conducts electricity because it is a metal and that there are other metals that don’t conduct electricity? Well, superconductors are a special category of metallic behavior in that a superconductor would conduct electricity without creating any heat. So you can see the importance of superconductors, you could imagine that the power transition lines for instance could be made of superconductors and so that we would get much more efficiency out of electrical generation … So we develop new materials, we think about the properties of existing superconductive materials and we try to identify new sorts of compounds that we think might be promising for understanding superconductivity — with an eventual eye toward making superconductors with better properties.

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