Gina Passante, assistant professor of physics, is a native of Canada, where she earned her doctorate in physics from the University of Waterloo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Winnipeg and a certificate of advanced studies in mathematics from the University of Cambridge. For the past three years, Passante was a postdoctoral research associate in the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington.
Why did you pursue the opportunity to join the Titan community?
I was looking for a position that had a good balance of teaching and research, and I had heard great things about the California State University system from colleagues. The more I read about CSUF, the more excited I was at the opportunity. Once I visited campus and met my new colleagues, I was really looking forward to joining the Titan family.
What do you look forward to now that you’re here?
I’m most looking forward to setting up my research group and getting new projects off the ground. I’m also enjoying getting to know the students and the campus. Over the next couple months, I plan to get my lab set up and start collecting data. I also want to learn more about the area, so there is a lot of exploring that I still need to do.
What areas of continued scholarship and research are of particular interest to you?
My interest is in physics education research and I specialize in student understanding of quantum mechanics — the physics of very small, isolated systems. For example, quantum mechanics explains the behavior of individual atoms or photons. My research investigates how students learn quantum mechanics by using written work, interviews and classroom observations to determine what particular difficulties they have with the content. Once that information is assessed, I design curricula that directly address those difficulties, as well as develop materials and strategies to improve instruction.
What are some of your outside activities, hobbies or interests?
My main hobbies are volleyball and knitting. I’ve played volleyball for many years now and finding a team to play on is always one of the first things I look for when I move to a new city. I have found that knitting is a good way to unwind and relax at the end of a long day — and as a bonus I get to create beautiful items. I even won an award for my knitting at a local fair.