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Get to know Imad Agha

Imad AghaThe curiosity of Imad Agha may have changed his life for the better. Imad is currently an assistant professor of Physics and also teaches for the Electro-Optics graduate program, but he wasn't always on this path. Early on in his career Imad intended to focus on Computer Engineering, and earned a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Imad was very good at computer engineering but found that he was more attracted to the fundamental questions that physics attempts to answer. So he changed to a more challenging path in physics. He earned a Master of Science before going on for his Ph.D. in Applied Physics, earning both degrees at Cornell University. The unanswered questions drove him to follow a new and more fulfilling path for his life.

Imad loves being part of the Department of Physics. He is particularly interested in non-linear crystals. Working on optics and light has become his passion, which he shares with his students here at the University of Dayton. He finds his favorite classes to teach are, "the courses that relate to my research, because I am able to go deeper than the text book and really make it exciting." Imad finds teaching "second nature, because I come from a family of educators" he tells me with a smile. His father is a professor of literature and always influenced Imad and his brother to pursue education with passion. As such, Imad grew up with a great love of learning but also with a keen love for literature.

That love of literature and art has carried with him through his life. When he isn't working in the lab with students, or toiling over his own research he can be found in the pursuit of his favorite hobbies. Imad is a writer in his free time, including essays, but mostly poetry. Most of his poetry revolves around events in his life. When he was younger he was actually published. This love of words and writing is fed by his trips to the theater. One of his favorite local playhouses is the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. The trip to Cincinnati is well worth it to take in Shakespeare. Imad also harbors a love for Oscar Wilde’s poetry, and claims him as his favorite writer. The wit and power of the written word is important to this physicist.

In his younger years Imad collected rare coins, and still appreciates the beauty of his collection. This mix of science and art contribute to balance in Imad’s life and he thrives in all the complexities of his personality. As a scientist one of the complexities you wouldn't expect to see in Imad’s life is boxing. Through recreational boxing Imad feels he has learned to appreciate the strategy that goes into the sport. He is careful when he participates, because he aims to avoid losing brain cells, but he enjoys the sport nonetheless. Imad also enjoys French New Wave films and Italian pictures. As a speaker of both French and Italian, these films are one of his beloved past times.

Imad has used his language skills in his travels. Some of the places he has been include Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, and of course the U.S. He hopes to travel to Spain in the near future, and he is considering learning Spanish to make the trip more enjoyable. Imad makes a point to visit his family in Lebanon at least once a year. If money and time were not obstacles, Imad would live out a childhood fantasy of owning and living in a castle. Of course now that he is grown up he admits that his castle would be filled with modern amenities. It is this curiosity and imagination that are most apparent when meeting Imad. He is truly complex and witty. His advice to students is, “Choose a path that challenges you because the easiest course is not always the best, and something more exciting and challenging may be your path to true happiness.”