Posted October 30, 2013
Meet Dr. Ivana Djuric:
Dr. Ivana Djuric can relate to the community college students she teaches. “Many of them have lots of challenges in their lives, but they come to school, because they want a better life,” says the physics professor who joined the faculty of PCCC this Fall.
Dr. Djuric once wanted a better life, too, and took some daring risks to achieve it. While in elementary school she was thrilled by physics and the desire to teach. “I had some great teachers who inspired me,” she says. But soon after earning her B.S. degree from the University of Belgrade, the young scholar bid her family goodbye and fled the repressive atmosphere of her native Serbia.
Knowing little English, she traveled alone to the U.S. and arrived at Stevens Institute of Technology, a school she had found through the internet. Attending on a stipend, the young physicist earned her master’s and doctoral degrees and also won Stevens’ 2005 Award for Excellence in Ph.D. Thesis Research.
Today, Dr. Djuric is a specialist in solid state physics, a recognized presenter at science conferences, and the co-author of a dozen articles which were published in the highly selective Physical Review and other prestigious science journals.
“I was so excited,” she says of her first publication. It was on the topic of quantum dots, which the professor explained are “artificial, man made atoms.” A potential use for these controllable atoms, she said, is to “put them into human blood vessels and program them to fight diseases.”
Though the professor enjoys research and plans to return to it one day, her current commitment is to her students. “My goal now is to be the best teacher I can be.”
Dr. Djuric comes to PCCC after several years of teaching at other community colleges. “I love teaching in community colleges,” she says. “There are so many different types of students, all with different backgrounds and stories.”
Married and the mother of two daughters, ages 2 and 5, Dr. Djuric strives to balance academic life with family life, but finds the laws of physics do not easily apply to childrearing.
“I thought balancing research and teaching was a challenge,” she says, laughing. “But kids… that’s another thing completely.”