American Physical Society
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Advice for Parents of Children that like Physics and Physical Science

If your child likes to ask why, takes things apart to figure out how they work and is excited about doing experiments in their physics and physical science classes, they may make great physicists. Of course, you might be wondering how they should prepare to become a physicist and exactly what they will for a living, once they become a physicist. The answer is that they can do a wide variety of things as a physicist. Some physicists pursue careers in medicine, others pursue careers in wind or solar energy technology development. Some physicists pursue careers in communications technology and others pursue careers as consultants to either the government or corporations. There are many options, but most of these options are hard for students to notice because, as you may have noticed, the word physics seldom appears in the career path.

So how does your student learn about the options? This website is a good place to start. They can browse through a library of Profiles of Physicists and see specific examples of how others have used college degrees in Physics to pursue exciting and diverse career paths. They can learn a bit about the various specialty areas in physics (astronomy, nuclear, materials, etc) by browsing the Physics Topics section. They can learn what companies have hired physicists with bachelors degrees in the past few years in the Physicist Employers section. When they want to get down to practical details of what types of salaries they can earn as a physicist, they can check out the Physics Career Facts section. They may also want to know how to prepare for their career and how to finance their education. The answers to these questions are found in the Information for Students section. Of course, you can learn more by browsing these sections, too!

After looking through what you find here, there are bound to be questions that you wish you could ask a real physicist, so how can you find someone to answer these questions? Check out the Physics Educational Institutions section. There are over 750 colleges and universities that grant degrees in Physics and there is bound to be one close to you. Each one of these programs employs physicists that would be happy to answer your questions and talk to your student about physics and career paths for Physicists!

Keivan Stassun

Keivan Stassun - Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Keivan was born on July 9,  1972, in Los Angeles,  California. "I get my strange genetic admixture from my Mexican mother and Iranian father, " he said.  Keivan lived in Venice until he was seven, at which point he moved to Encino in the San Fernando Valley ("The Valley"), which is the place he considers to be his "hometown."

Keivan experienced some difficult times growing up, as his father left home when he was very young. "My mother set about gaining residency status and earning a high school equivalency. She worked cleaning homes...and we subsisted on food stamps and welfare. I attribute much of my drive in academics to my earliest memories of my mother studying late into the night for her equivalency and, later, for her citizenship."

It was as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin that Keivan's ideas about the importance of combining scholarly practices in research, teaching, and outreach began to crystallize. While carrying out his thesis research, Keivan became active in math/science education for minorities in the local schools, and developed an astronomy outreach program to provide teachers with resources related to teaching physics and astronomy. His role as a teacher and mentor remains an essential theme through his work at Vanderbilt, as he is is involved in several programs and publications at Vanderbilt aimed at underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy--such as the  Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program, and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA).

In addition to his family of students, Keivan enjoys spending time with his two sons, Emilio and Jaime, and his wife Justine, whom he married in 1994.