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Daria Ahrensmeier is a theoretical physicist who loves teaching, research, developing new courses, and experimenting with a variety of teaching methods. She joined the TLC team in May 2012 and looks forward to bringing together people and ideas from various fields to work on shaping the future of the university as a colourful community of people who are striving to improve and share our understanding of the world.
Daria studied physics, mathematics, and a little philosophy at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, where she also designed and taught seminar courses on the history and philosophy of science. She wrote her PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) thesis about the application of non-equilibrium quantum field theory to heavy ion collisions, while teaching material science labs for engineering students at the University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld. As a postdoc at the University of Winnipeg and at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, she worked on adiabatic quantum computation and entanglement dynamics and developed and taught a math skills workshop tailored to the needs of science students. During her two years as an assistant professor at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, she learned how to manage the high teaching load of a young faculty member while experimenting with student-centred teaching methods, redesigned a course on waves, and co-supervised student projects on entanglement measures in photo-ionization. Most recently, Daria taught large first-year physics courses for science and engineering majors at the University of Calgary. She has developed, tested, and implemented "labatorials" for those courses, i.e., physics education research–inspired hybrids of labs and tutorials that emphasize inquiry and understanding of core concepts. She also trained the teaching assistants and worked on integrating the labatorials with the course lectures, assignments, and exams.
Daria works with instructors, including graduate students, who are interested in trying new teaching methods or wish to (re)design their courses. She consults with them to find out what works for their personal style, their course content, and their audience, and helps identify the core concepts and learning outcomes of the course. She provides suggestions on the use of personal response systems, various assessment and feedback methods, or ways to split up content over various course components in an efficient way. She also works with academic departments on course and program development, such as inquiry-based labs and math workshops for an interdisciplinary audience.
Donev, J., Wilson, W. J. F., Ahrensmeier, D., Stafford, R., & Thompson, R. I. (2010). Using software to review mathematics for students in introductory physics. Physics in Canada, 66, 174–175.
Ahrensmeier, D., Donev, J. M. K. C., Hicks, R. B., Louro, A. A., Sangalli, L., Stafford, R. B., & Thompson, R. I. (2009). Labatorials at the University of Calgary: In pursuit of effective small group instruction within large registration physics service courses. Physics in Canada, 65, 214–216.