Dr. Joel Berrier

Chair, Associate Professor

Office: DSCH 332   |    Phone: (308) 865-8282   |    Email: berrierjc@unk.edu

Dr. Joel Berrier

About Joel Berrier

Dr. Berrier received his bachelor’s degree in Physics from Hope College in Michigan and then completed his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at the University of California Irvine. Before coming to UNK he worked at Pomona College in California, the University of Arkansas, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in the Canary Islands, Rutgers University and California Lutheran University.

Dr. Berrier's research interests are in cosmology and the formation and evolution of galaxies. He possesses over seven years of research experience.

Academic Degrees

Ph.D., Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA, 2008.
M.S., Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA, 2005. 
B.S., Physics, Hope College, Holland, MI, 2002. 

Areas of Research and Professional Interest

Dr. Berrier's primary fields of interest are galaxy formation theory and cosmology. Specifically, he is interested in large scale structure formation, the relationship between properties of galaxies and their dark matter halos, and the mechanisms that drive galaxy evolution. His research explores the fundamental physics of the effects of dark matter on galaxy formation and on the large scale structure of the Universe. A complete picture of galaxy formation also requires an understanding of the formation and evolution of disk galaxies, which provide important clues to the nature of the dark matter distribution.

Teaching Interests and Approach

Dr. Berrier's current teaching includes Physical Science and College Physics.

As the instructor of a course, Dr. Berrier feels it is his obligation to use the best tools available to instruct his students in the most effective way possible. To this end, he employs a variety of techniques in the classroom setting to promote an active learning environment. In addition to lecturing students, and using more traditional multimedia presentations, including Power Point and videos, to present material to students, he employs group exercises in the classroom to promote communication skills and peer instruction among the students the students. These in-class discussions help students to realize the areas in which they are having difficulties in their understanding, while assisting other students in developing their own communications skills and grasp of the subject.

Interactive learning also assists in the educational process, so Dr. Berrier encourages student participation in class using in-class polling. He polls the class to assess their understanding of topic materials. The use of visual demonstrations in the classroom helps interest the students by providing close visual and experiential examples of the physical phenomena that are being discussed. 

In instructing a course, Dr. Berrier sees it as his responsibility not only to teach students the material in the course, but to encourage them to develop an appreciation of that material. He attempts to convey his own passion for astronomy and physics to students in the classroom. Most importantly, Dr. Berrier want his students to come away from his courses with an understanding of the essential concepts in the topics and an appreciation of how these concepts apply to our universe. 

Curriculum Vitae