From her start in justice studies to later pursuing a passion for physics, Senior Lecturer Allison Boley will be teaching Physics 191 at Arizona State University.
Boley graduated from ASU in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in justice studies. After falling in love with physics, she earned her PhD in physics from ASU in spring 2020. During that time, she taught as an adjunct professor at multiple local community colleges and Benedictine University, and then as full-time faculty in a one-year-only contract at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Boley also runs a YouTube channel, Physics For Good, which takes a Physics 101 concept, explains it, then relates each concept to a different local nonprofit organization.
Boley, along with being a lecturer, will be taking over the Sundial Project from Anna Zaniewski. The project is dedicated to building a supportive community of people interested in the physical sciences. It includes mentoring programs, an Early Start camp for incoming first-year students, a conference, game nights and more.
“I want to first make sure the programs set up by Dr. Zaniewski continue to thrive, and then I want to implement additional best practices so that students of all backgrounds can experience equal success and belonging throughout their time here,” Boley said.
When Boley began teaching six years ago, she intentionally made the content of her classes more inclusive and welcoming for all students wanting to learn about physics.
“I feel like there are a lot of physics problems that are very focused on traditionally masculine jobs and chores. For example, there's a webpage that I send students to sometimes for additional homework problems. There's someone mowing the lawn, there's someone doing hard physical labor like taking crates off of a big truck. There's one about wolves pulling a polar bear carcass in multiple directions which, really, it's not like a masculine chore but it's very violent,” Boley said.
“Instead of those types of things, I write problems about rocking a baby to sleep in a rocking chair and what is the periodic function of that rocking chair. Or like grocery shopping, what's the distance and displacement if you go down certain aisles? So it's nothing that excludes men, but it just makes it bigger so more people can relate.”
Boley looks forward to working at ASU and making the Department of Physics overall more inclusive.
“As an adjunct, I tried to take my class apart, and tried to say, ‘How can I change the system so it is healthier and more inclusive?' and I did it because that's the extent of the power that I had in my own classroom,” Boley said. “So now, I'm in this new position, and looking forward to working with others to make the system more inclusive in larger ways.”