Using ultrafast pulses of light—0.000000000001 seconds long—to investigate new materials for applications in security, aerospace, and nanotechnology may sound like something straight out of Star Trek, but it’s all in a day’s work for Jason Deibel ’97, assistant professor of physics at Wright State University in Dayton.
Deibel and his team of graduate and undergraduate students study terahertz and ultrafast photonics. In his five years at Wright State, Deibel has brought in nearly $5 million in research and educational funding.
Deibel obviously enjoys the opportunity to pursue research with his physics and engineering physics students. Nonetheless, one of his favorite teaching assignments is physics for non-science majors.
“The broad liberal arts education I received at Transylvania made me a better professor. Having taken a lot of classes outside my discipline helped me interact with those students.”
Deibel is also comfortable giving scientific talks to a general audience at local museums, or even at a pub near the Wright State campus.
Graduating from Transylvania with zero debt as a William T. Young scholar gave Deibel the freedom to commit to the six or seven years of graduate school required to pursue his chosen career. He completed his Ph.D. in applied physics at the University of Michigan in 2004 and then relocated to Houston, where he worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Rice University. While there, he was a Director of Central Intelligence Postdoctoral Fellow with funding provided by the CIA, and he spent two months in England at Leeds University as a Royal Society Visiting Fellow.
It was not just the course work at Transylvania that helped Deibel build his career and define himself as a person. “My participation in my fraternity helped me gain self-confidence and leadership skills while also providing a lifelong support system of friends. Doing community service during Alternative Spring Break opened my eyes to the world in many ways and inspired me to work to change it for the better.” Deibel was also a member of the concert and jazz bands and served as a resident adviser for Kentucky’s Governor’s Scholars Program.
One of Deibel’s fondest memories remains his final moments on campus. “During my senior year, I was chosen by my peers to speak at commencement. It was an honor to be able to speak that morning, but it was a gift that I was able to look out and see all of my friends that I had shared the last four years with.”
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