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Department of Chemistry and Mathematics

Department of Chemistry and Physics

Derrick Boucher

Associate Professor
Phone: (239) 590-7170
Office: WH 255

University of Scranton, BS in Physics, 1987
Lehigh University, MS in Physics, 1989
Lehigh University, PhD in Physics, 1993, specializing in the quantum theory of solids

Research and scholarship:
My research interests center on the atomic-scale mechanisms behind the macroscopic properties of materials. I run computer simulations called molecular dynamics that move the model atoms around according to the forces predicted by quantum mechanics. This yields information about how the atoms may move in the real materials and what electronic properties may present themselves (like conductive/insulating, optical properties, etc.) My past work has been on the electronic and physical properties of hydrogen as an impurity in silicon, the electronic behavior of native defects in gallium nitride and the triboelectric (frictional charging) properties of organic polymers. I am currently working to extend the triboelectric studies to materials found in volcanic ash, Martian, lunar and interplanetary dusts.

I also like to read and write about the interaction of philosophy and religion with science.

I have just finished writing a book on the scientific method, the "greatest hits" of natural science and the interaction of science with society. It has not found a publisher (YET!) but I've used it as a textbook in my new Foundations of Natural Science course.

At one time or another I have taught all the introductory Physics courses here at FGCU, including the labs. I also teach to non-scientists via my Foundations of Natural Science course. I love to teach and have an incredible enthusiasm for the marvels of scientific discovery. My lectures are filled with anecdotes, connections to everyday experience and technology, history and humor. Some of the humor is actually funny. My office hours are spent patiently helping students master the concepts and problem-solving strategies needed for success in Physics.

Brief Bio:
I was born in Yakima, Washington in 1965, the second of four Air Force brats to Don and Dolores Boucher. Moving around every few years and long family camping vacations opened my mind to new perspectives. At home, a steady supply of resources (encyclopedias, kid's magazines, etc.) oversight (Mom forcing me to read to her) and encouragement let me develop my innate curiosity about things scientific and technological. It helped that we lived on or around Air Force bases, with a constant supply of jet aircraft and high technology. Since my father was a meteorologist, these experiences included behind-the-scenes tours of the weather forecasting centers at the various bases.

Work Experience:
After a few years doing research and teaching at Rutgers and Lehigh after my PhD, I accepted an offer for an assistant professorship in physics at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA (not the one in London). I taught there for fourteen years, gaining tenure and rising to the highest ranks in the faculty.

Tiring of winter, and spurred by my 2006 marriage, I decided to relocate south and in 2010 accepted a position as an associate professor of physics at Florida Gulf Coast University. I am currently living in Ft. Myers, Florida with my wife, my stepson, now a student at FGCU, and two Yorkshire terriers.