New Faculty Interview Series: Dr. Estrin
Photography by Deanna N. ’15
How and when did you know science was the field for you?
I … liked science probably since I was fifteen or sixteen, mostly because I kept on asking … “Why?” questions. I would continue asking “Why, why, why, why, why?” And so for me, that led to science because in almost every other discipline, you can ask questions why, and you’ll always just end in “because.” But with science, eventually you can get to a why. Like, “Why do bacteria swim in this certain way?” And you can continue delving down – and at least for me – you can get a satisfying response.
What’s your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching would probably be interacting with students. When you get an “aha moment” from a student, that is really powerful and can drive me through the day – when students just understand concepts or not only when they understand it, but when they realize how cool it is. So I think getting that out of students is a really big part of teaching for me.
What was the best part of high school for you?
It’s going to sound so nerdy, but I’m a science teacher so it’s fine – probably having really great discussions with my friends about things that we were learning about in class… We had these big philosophical debates about different ethical issues and politics. We didn’t really know what we were talking about but it was fun to play with ideas. That was probably one of the more fun things. And also just spending time with friends not doing that. But definitely my friends were a big part of high school for me.
What advice do you have on how to survive high school?
I would say, one thing that students here always seem to focus on is getting into college and year after year the students – every single one of them if they want to – end up going to college. And they all go to college in fantastic places. So know that that’s going to happen, so don’t worry so much about grades and if possible, get excited about the material. The faculty here…get way more excited about students who are engaged in the material and have questions compared to students just asking, “Will this be on a test?” or “What does my grade look like?” Even if it’s something that you’re not passionate about, if you can see the connections with another field you are passionate about, then that’s always cool. I think a good way to succeed is to always get back to what you’re excited about or find something exciting in what you are studying.