Boasting a 4.9 rating on RateMyProfessor.com and receiving SUU’s Outstanding Educator Award after his first year of teaching, Professor Brandon Wiggins is one of SUU’s most popular professors.
“We stack absurdity on top of absurdity to try to create demonstrations that are high stakes, funny or otherwise death defying.”
Raised just outside of Cedar City in the small town of New Harmony, Wiggins graduated from SUU in 2012 with a degree in pure mathematics and received his Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Brigham Young University.
After receiving his education, Wiggins knew he wanted to come back to SUU, but this time as a professor.
“I have always been in love with SUU’s commitment to education, commitment to teaching and commitment to students,” said Wiggins. “This is something you don’t find at these really big research institutions.”
Wiggins, now an Assistant Professor of Physics, has only been teaching since 2016. In that short amount of time, however, he has become a great addition to the university, evident in the recognition he has received for his teaching.
“I have always known since I was a Kindergartener that I wanted to be a college professor,” said Wiggins. “I have always aspired to be a teacher and so getting awards means a lot to me.”
But what exactly is it that makes Professor Wiggins an award winning professor?
“We try to press the boundaries quite a bit as far as what the conventional physics education looks like,” said Wiggins. “We will show you things in physics that you have never seen before. I get audible gasps at some of the things we are able to show people that are borderline magical.”
Students agree that Professor Wiggins’ demonstrations and teaching style keep them coming to class.
“No matter what physics background you have, you will be able to understand the way he teaches,” said Nate Griffiths a junior studying biology from Beaver. “He brings an experiment or a demonstration every day to do in front of the class and it makes the class so entertaining and fun to go to.”
When Wiggins isn’t in the classroom, he spends his time conducting research and serving as a consulting scientist as an active affiliate of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
“Right now I am studying astrochemistry in the universe using supercomputers which stimulate the formation of galaxies,” said Wiggins. “I also study supernovas. So we simulate stars blowing themselves up and these supernova explosions.”
Despite his many great achievements both inside and out of the classroom, Wiggins says watching his students succeed is perhaps the most rewarding part of his job.
“Seeing individual students progress and jump over bench marks has yielded more satisfaction to me than all the awards or honors or whatever,” said Wiggins. “And that is because there is a human element to that I value more.”
Because of this love and dedication for his students, it will be of no surprise to the SUU community when Professor Wiggins receives yet another teaching award.
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Story by:Cassidy Harmon
Photo Courtesy of Brandon Wiggins