Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised mainly in the Midwest, Jay Dittmann discovered his passion for science at his 7th grade science fair. "I did a science fair project that compared the rate of heat absorption for wooden blocks of different colors. I ended up winning a regional science fair in southeastern Wisconsin in the area of physics. I actually didn't even know that my project was physics when I started it, but the experience helped me decide to be a physics major and ultimately propelled me into a physics career."
Research and Education
Working as a postdoctoral research associate at Fermilab, Dr. Dittmann performed experimental high-energy physics research, as well as science education and public education. The program paved the path towards his career as a physics professor.
His area of research is experimental high-energy physics, which is the science of the fundamental nature of matter. Along with researchers, he is trying to discover the Higgs Boson particle, a particle whose existence would explain the origin of mass in the universe.
Work at Baylor
Baylor's Vision 2012 attracted Dr. Dittmann to Baylor. "I was eager to become a professor at a university where I could combine my love for experimental high energy physics with my love of teaching."
He joined the Baylor faculty in the fall of 2003 as an assistant professor of Physics. Currently he teaches General Physics, the first course in the calculus-based introductory physics sequence, and a variety of undergraduate and graduate physics classes.
Dr. Dittmann has supervised numerous Ph.D. graduate students and undergraduate students experimenting with high-energy physics research. He serves as an academic advisor for an average of 40 students a semester.
Dr. Dittmann has been honored to receive various positions of leadership in his experimental collaboration and a significant grant from the US Department of Energy to support research at Baylor. "Nonetheless, my greatest joy comes from being able to make an impact on the lives of others by sharing knowledge in the classroom, offering guidance and encouragements to students, or service to my colleagues," he says.
Physics, Fun, and Bus Driving
Dr. Dittmann has trouble imagining any other life. "If I weren't a physics professor at Baylor, I probably wouldn't be having as much fun. But I would probably be doing something in the area of computer science," he says.
"When I was a senior in high school, I remember taking a career survey with lots of questions about my likes and dislikes," he recalls. "I was presented with a list of five careers that would be most compatible with my abilities and personality. The list contained mathematics, chemists, physicist, university professor and bus driver. To this day I've never actually driven a bus."
Dr. Dittmann resides in Hewitt, Texas with his wife, a professional calligrapher and two sons, Andrew and Paul. He enjoys playing puzzles, eating Italian food and watching basketball.