Department Contact Information

Physics Department

Location: 180-204
Phone: (805) 756-2448
Fax: (805) 756-2435
Chair: Jennifer Klay

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Lecturers at Cal Poly

Full-time lecturers are instructors with a PhD in physics or physics education whose primary role is as an instructor for introductory physics courses (click here to learn about how we conduct physics instruction at Cal Poly). These positions provide teaching experience within our department that will help lecturers achieve their career objectives. Our department strives to create an environment in which our lecturers feel supported in their professional growth and development. 

Full-time lecturers are expected to teach a typical load of 15 weighted teaching units (WTUs) per quarter, while tenure-track faculty members are typically assigned 12 WTUs of instruction and 3 WTUs for scholarship, department, college, and university service. The teaching load is predominantly compromised of introductory courses, with lecture, laboratory, and studio options determined based on scheduling availability, lecturer preference, as well as departmental and instructional need. A typical lecturer assignment could consist, for example, of two sections of introductory physics in the 48-student traditional lecture format with three 24-student laboratory sections (14 WTUs), two 36-student introductory physics studio sections and one 48-students traditional lecture section (15 WTUs), or three sections of introductory physics 48-student lecture sections from courses without associated laboratories that meet four times per week (15 WTUs), etc.

All instructors are invited to submit preferences for particular course assignments and schedules each quarter. The department scheduler makes every effort to accommodate these preferences but they cannot always be guaranteed. 

We are committed to providing strong mentoring in teaching and managing the balance between scholarship and teaching. Although there are no employment-mandated expectations for lecturers beyond their instructional duties, we welcome lecturers with interests beyond the classroom and look for ways to provide support, resources, and opportunities for our lecturers to launch themselves onto a permanent career track that best fits their own professional aspirations.

Examples of optional enrichment activities available to lecturers

  1. Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) classes and workshops
  2. Paid summer research opportunities with students
  3. Brown bag lunches about teaching
  4. Support and mentoring in creating a professional plan
  5. Opportunities to give colloquia to the department as preparation for job interviews
  6. Opportunities to join collaborative efforts that involve teaching a flipped class or engaging in studio instruction to help with resume-building and development of a nuanced teaching philosophy
  7. Opportunities to try teaching upper division classes (as scheduling permits)
  8. Opportunities to engage in other university training around areas of interest, such as diversity and inclusion
  9. Opportunities to advise student clubs and organizations

The following provides historical information on the experiences and career trajectories of lecturers in the physics department at Cal Poly from 2007 to 2018:

Employment data on lecturers at Cal Poly (2007-2018)

Over the ten-year period from 2007-2018, the physics department employed 75 distinct lecturers in different roles:

lecturers employed at cal poly

These lecturers helped our department deliver instruction in introductory physics classes to a large and wide population of Cal Poly students over that time (Fall 2007-Spring 2017):
Percentage of lecture sections taught by













Lecturers (Full & Part-time) 58% 60% 48% 48% 62% 50%
Tenure-track Faculty 28% 17% 39% 41% 31% 41%
Emeritus Faculty (Part-time) 14% 23% 13% 11% 7% 9%


Of the 75 lecturers total, 52 were hired as full-time lecturers on one-year contracts. However, most stay longer than that.

chart showing how long lecturers at cal poly physics

Of the 39 full-time lecturers who left the full-time lecturer pool at Cal Poly during this period, most of their primary reasons for leaving were self-driven.

chart showing why lecturers left cal poly physics

Most of the people hired as full-time lecturers at Cal Poly from 2007-2018 moved on to careers teaching at the college level.

chart of what type of position a lecturer took after leaving cal poly physics

Examples of the subsequent institutions and career positions of our lecturers include:

Tenure-track Faculty Positions

  • State University of New York, Cortland
  • Qatar University, Doha
  • Millersville University
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Keene State College
  • Humboldt State University
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Embry Riddle University
  • Rhode Island College
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Full/Part-Time Lecturer Positions

  • North Seattle College
  • Towson University
  • Brigham Young University, Hawaii
  • Lamar University
  • Ventura Community College
  • San Francisco State University
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (part-time pool)

Community College Tenure-track Positions

  • College of DuPage (Illinois)
  • Saddleback College
  • El Camino College

Other Career Positions

  • Data Scientist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Software Engineer
  • High School Administrator
  • R&D Manager
  • NASA Research Scientist
  • UC Santa Barbara Postdoctoral Researcher


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