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Get to know Jay Mathews

Jay MathewsFor someone who is deeply engrossed in the world of physics and the way it impacts the world, Jay Mathews is an extremely friendly, easy-to-talk-to person. He is very passionate about his work. Physics is an exceptionally daunting field for many and that is one of the primary reasons that Jay went into the field. He began by working in Electrical Engineering with the intent of designing and developing electronic instruments to combine his love of music with his educational goals.

Yet the deeper Jay became involved with the physics of engineering the more he came to love the differences in physics, "It was about the way of thinking that physics involved," Jay told me in explanation. Jay shifted to physics and never looked back. He earned a B.S in Physics and a B.S in Mathematics from Colorado State University before earning a M.S and a Ph.D. in Physics from Arizona State University.

Jay went on to work with the US Army under a National Academy of Sciences Research Associateship. His work in physics is specifically focused on the area of silicon photonics, which has applications in fiber optics, high-speed computing, and defense. With his research, he is working to integrate silicon into a range of applications in technologies for the future. Jay also has an intense interest in the photovoltaic applications that the future holds.

"There is an incredible future full of optical electronics that are involved in every aspect of our lives," Jay speculates in regards to the future of physics. As much as Jay loves the research and development in his field he is happiest as a teacher. He is a self-proclaimed "tough" teacher who has high expectations for his students.

"Physics is difficult, but it is all part of the learning process and it becomes very fun to partake in," Jay says of choosing teaching over research and development.

Before devoting his life to all things physics, Jay spent a few years as a musician. He toured the country with his punk band, opening for groups such as Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World. Jay plays the bass guitar, guitar, keyboard, drums, and is even a "fair singer." He has recently become involved with a Walk to End Alzheimer’s, because he has a personal history with the disease in his family. It is very important to him to raise awareness about the disease and to forward research in that area.

Jay loves to travel and has been to the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico. The next goal on his travel agenda is to go to Africa and Asia.

Jay is very close to his family. His father is an electrical engineer, and his brother is currently studying engineering. His father lives in Arizona and his brother, mother, and sister live in Colorado. He is very close to his sister and has been trying to convince her to go into physics. In his free times he likes to play video games, watch crime shows and read. His favorite book series is the Song of Fire and Ice novels by George RR Martin. He is a huge fan of Game of Thrones and can’t wait for the 6th book to be released.

Jay’s best advice to students is “work to figure out who you are and be happy. Don’t think about or worry about other people’s opinions of you, because being yourself is your greatest strength.” Dr. Jay Mathews is clearly the right man to electrify the physics department with his knowledge and passion here at the University of Dayton.