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Oculus Building staff profiles: Tom Marsh

Tom Marsh

Name: Tom Marsh
Job Title: Professor
Department: Physics

Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

I am head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics group at Warwick which started when I moved here in 2003. I carry out research in astrophysics, help colleagues, postdocs and PhD students to do the same, and teach physics.

What have you been teaching in the Oculus?

I teach a 1st year physics module called "Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity". This is a core module taken by all 1st year physicists and a significant number of 1st year mathematicians. It deals with Newton's Laws of mechanics - forces, accelerations, rotation, orbits - and then moves onto Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, including the famous equation "E = mc2". The class size this year is the largest I have had in the several years that I have taught this module; it needs the space provided by the big lecture theatre in the Oculus.

Have you used any of the special technology or features in the Oculus to support your teaching? If so, how?

I come close to the traditional "chalk-and-talk" favoured by many of us in the mathematical sciences, because it is hard to deliver the same material through pre-written slides, so I haven't used the full range of features by any means. However, rather than a board, I use data projectors. The lecture rooms in the Oculus have two data projectors, both set flush in the podium, small details perhaps, but ones which help hugely when presenting long pieces of analysis.

What do you like best about the building?

I think it's a great resource for the University. It has wonderful natural light inside, and I was struck by how quickly students could be found working together in the areas outside the formal teaching rooms. I defy anyone not be impressed when they first go into the large lecture theatre. My main worry for my first lecture there was whether I could compete with the room.

Do you have any plans to use the building more in the future?

It will be first choice for any conferences my group might host, although I suspect competition will be stiff. Personally, once term is over, I would like to explore the technical features in more detail to see if I can incorporate them into my future teaching there.