Professor came far, in more ways than one, to become one of Auburn's top teachers

Published: November 10, 2014
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Scotland native Stuart Loch says he knew from the first day he began teaching at Auburn University that he would find it to be very rewarding.

Loch came to Auburn in 2002 after receiving his bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. He began as a post-doctoral researcher and was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Physics. In 2011, he received tenure and was promoted to associate professor.

Throughout his teaching and research, Loch has dedicated time to helping students understand physics and wants to better prepare those who choose to take the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT.

In recognition for his dedication to teaching and his students, Loch is a recipient of the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. Loch is one of two winners of the award for 2014; the other is Debbie Folkerts of the Departments of Biological Sciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

"I put a lot of work and energy into my teaching, so to get recognition for that means a lot to me," Loch said. "These awards remind people that teaching is important as well as the research here at Auburn."

Loch said he tries to ask students why they are taking a physics course or attending an MCAT review sessions and that he wants to help them with those aims.

"The students here work hard," Loch said. "Especially in a course like physics, they know it's going to be hard going into it. I've learned that if you offer some help, the students are really willing to take it."

Loch's research focuses on modeling the light emitted from astrophysical and laboratory plasmas. He studies fusion plasma experiments aimed at developing a clean energy source for the future. His astrophysical research in recent years has involved investigating the light given off from exploding stars called supernovae.

"Students take a subject that on the surface seems very hard and complicated, and all of a sudden they see a way through it that's really straightforward and very logical, but it's also creative because they have to problem-solve their way through it," he said.

Loch says his grandfather, parents and Ph.D. supervisor, Hugh Summers, have been big influences in his life. "When I meet with students, I often think of how my mother would treat people and what she would do in my shoes," he said.

Loch is also a recipient of the Eugene J. Clothiaux Faculty Teaching Award in the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University in 2013 and Professor of the Year by the Auburn chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta in 2013. He was also selected by student votes to give the 2013 Final Lecture at Auburn.

"I really enjoy working at Auburn because the people here are a family, and when they ask how you're doing, they actually want to know how you're doing," Loch said.

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