Jordan Kyriakidis, associate professor

A day in the life

Jordan Kyriakidis, associate professor

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Physics is a tight-knit group. Profs know the students, students know each other—it's a really good atmosphere.

A supportive environment for students—and profs

When Jordan Kyriakidis, associate professor of physics, graduated with his BSc in Physics, he wasn’t thinking of physics as a career. “I wasn’t sure if I should go on to do a Master’s in Physics, or an MBA, or nothing! But now, I can’t imagine doing anything else—I don’t know if I can do anything else!” he laughs.

Though his PhD thesis was in quantum magnetism, he’s now into quantum computing. “Half my work is just calculating with paper and pencil, while the other half involves working with our super-computers in the basement of the Killam Library.” But, Dr. Kyriakidis admits, grinning, “No one really knows how to build a quantum computer!”

But that’s partly what keeps Dr. Kyriakidis going with his research. “There’s just so much we don’t know,” he says. He makes an analogy: “The ocean is what we don’t know, while the land is what we do know. The land keeps growing, but so does the shoreline—being at that shoreline as it grows is a really cool place to be working.”

And speaking of great places to work, Dr. Kyriakidis is enthusiastic about being part of Dal’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science. “The profs are in tune with current research, which goes hand in hand with good teaching—we have some world-class researchers here. It’s a very supportive environment. Students definitely pick up on that.”

“I love the performance part of teaching—lecturing, getting feedback, discussing. It’s a nice balance with the research activity, which is very solitary,” he says. “It’s a great feeling, opening students’ minds to the way things work at a very fundamental level.”

And clearly, the students appreciate his efforts. Kyriakidis has won the Dr. Forbes Langstroth Memorial Award for 2011. “This is a teaching award voted on by our undergrad students, so it's special,” he says. He also won the award in 2003.

“It’s great when former students come back and say a physics class really helped them in some way,” he says. “A graduate who now owns a business told me that some of the techniques she learned in my class have helped her found, grow, and run a start-up company, even though most of those things are not physics related.”