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Big Changes in the Math Department: Trine Welcome Professor Thomas Morrill

By: Marissa Boatright 

Thomas MorrillTrine has made many changes since our student body got back onto campus this August. Many of our departments have welcomed new, ambitious, and excited faculty. A new key member to the Trine family is the Mathematics Department’s Assistant Professor Thomas Morrill. Professor Morrill is teaching Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 this semester, with lots of exciting ideas for his department. 

Morrill graduated from Earlham college with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a minor in Music. After finishing his undergraduate, he traveled to Oregon State to receive his master’s degree and PhD, which focused on number theory. With his degrees and experience, Morrill obtained a research fellowship at the University of New South Wales. This experience was what set him up to now be here at Trine; after his years of research work, he decided that the “teaching work” was more important than the “research work”. Of course, research is still important to Morrill, but it becomes a lesser focus when the tools are available to effectively teach students. He is dedicated to bringing his optimistic attitude, new ideas and experience to his students through teaching. 

Joining a university faculty in the midst of a pandemic can be quite daunting. Fortunately, Morrill came in with experience in online teaching and understands many of the challenges with it. 

“Calculus is a very delicate subject, where if you miss out on a single lecture, it can become very complicated to try to catch back up with where the professor is at,” Morrill explained. He understands that everyone learns differently and everyone needs to be lectured to in a different manner. He talks about the idea of the flipped classroom learning style for the hybrid classes; the students would not receive homework, per se, but would watch lectures and read the book in their own time. In class, the students do their practice problems with the professor overseeing and helping with any questions. 

Morrill’s first and foremost priority, however, is learning what the school needs from him at the moment. Focusing on his department’s needs and his students’ needs is a big deal for his first year at Trine. The university is excited to welcome him.