Browning: in an orbit of his own

Lucinda Albers

Lucinda Albers

Every teacher has something about them that makes him or her special and interesting. One look into Professor Larry Browning’s office, and you can tell there are several things that make him unique.

“He uses a lot of material. It’s a very visual learning experience, which is a big benefit,” says Christer Ask, a fourth-year physics major and student of Browning.

Born and raised in Paintsville, Ky., Browning received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Syracuse University in New York. He then moved on to Purdue to continue his graduate work, and began teaching at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

“They had taught astronomy in the past, but they had not been teaching it when I got there,” says Browning. “So I said it’s not a bad idea to start and they said, ‘great, you do it.'”

After seven years at Marquette, Browning began teaching at SDSU in 1990.

Of the classes he teaches this semester, Browning says he likes all of them, but probably prefers Astronomy.

“There’s something about astronomy that’s … well … physics itself is inherently interesting. It may not be as accessible with the math and things, but with astronomy, we downplay that,” says Browning.

“I think it’s nice, and it’s a lot of fun to help people see those things especially sometimes for the first time.”

He credits some of his teaching methods to new technologies that he didn’t have when he was a student (as well as learning along with the students when he teaches). Browning says that he also prefers visuals in teaching, not just lecture.

For example, in astronomy, he tries to get the students to “act out motions of the Earth.”

He also believes that having a positive outlook on what you do makes your class more enjoyable.

“I think also probably the main thing is just being enthusiastic about stuff. For me that’s easy, because I like what I’m doing. I like to help people understand it and make it part of their body of knowledge and their view of the world, and I think that’s important to try to convey that,” Browning says.

Browning married a librarian he met at SDSU and jokes that he “went to the library and checked out a librarian on permanent loan.” He has a 9-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.

As far as living in Brookings, Browning says that he has “enjoyed living in Brookings, either as a single person or a married person. I grew up in a small town, and I like small towns and the small town advantages.”

#1.884933:1849804280.jpg:larrybrowning01gray_tc.jpg:Larry Browning, physics and astronomy instructor, uses as many visual aids as he can during his lectures. He even tries to get students to “act out the motions of the Earth” in his classes.:Ty Carlson