Jacob Willig-Onwuachi '95, associate professor of physics

Tue, 2012-05-08 09:47 am

Jacob Willig-Onwuachi (2006). Associate Professor of Physics. B.A., Grinnell College; M.S., University of Iowa; Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University.

Jacob Willig-Onwuachi is a medical physicist who joined the Grinnell College Department of Physics in fall 2006. Prior to accepting appointment at Grinnell, he held a two-year research fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School. He also worked as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering of the University of California at Davis, where he taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Thus, Professor Willig-Onwuachi came to Grinnell with considerable teaching experience. Following departmental expectations, he teaches a wide array of courses at all levels of the curriculum, including introductory physics, upper-level theoretical physics, experimental physics, and Tutorial. His students describe him as a helpful, approachable, and effective teacher in a highly mathematically-driven theoretical field. Since his field of specialization is outside the mainstream of physics, he brings a dimension of interdisciplinarity, an avowed goal of the College, to his classroom and department.

Professor Willig-Onwuachi’s research involves magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its applications to medicine. Since arriving at Grinnell, he has established a research lab, an interdisciplinary research program which ranges from line-by-line motion correction of MRI through the use of multiple coils to Earth’s field imaging, and has provided consistent opportunities for mentored student research, both in the summer and during the academic year which have led to over 20 student presentations within the College community and at regional, national, and international conferences. During his early years at Grinnell he was the recipient of a Harris Faculty Fellowship. He has co-authored two peer-reviewed publications which appear in two of the five top journals in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Both papers deal with techniques of enhancing the image quality and data acquisition time of MRI scans.

Service to his department and to the College has been impressive. He articulates a service philosophy grounded in his commitment to enhancing institutional and departmental diversity. Dr. Willig-Onwuachi has been actively involved in the Grinnell Science Project, the Grinnell Posse Program, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Committee on Minority Concerns, and the Mellon-Mays Fellowship Program. Professor Willig-Onwuachi freely extends his mentoring to students and colleagues alike. For example, he currently acts as an advisor to the leadership of the Early Career Faculty group, as well as helping to mentor our current Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD) Postdoctoral Fellow in theoretical physics. He serves on an advisory committee to President Kington on the state of diversity in science education at Grinnell, and was elected by his colleagues to chair the Faculty Organization Committee.