LFCC assistant professor of physics Ray Rogers might not have explored outer space in his former job with NASA, but he wasn’t exactly grounded either.
As a research scientist with NASA for seven years, Ray flew in small planes while operating a 900-pound piece of equipment that included a laser probing the atmosphere to gather research on pollution.
“You can go to places that you will never, ever, ever go,” he said during a presentation on his work.
One of those places was Barrow, AK. He also flew over the Northwest Territories in Canada, Mexico City, Bermuda, Barbados and points in between. There were times when Ray and his colleagues would fly all night long to make sure a satellite they were tracking was working as it should be.
“There’s more to science than just sitting in front of a computer,” he explained.
Even while working for NASA, Ray knew he wanted to be a teacher.
“I got my Ph.D because I was interested in teaching, but life happens sometimes, and you take a job and work at NASA for a while,” he said. “There was a great group of people, but I always wanted to teach.”
Ray got his bachelor’s of science degree in physics at Frostburg State University before obtaining his master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He was finishing up his Ph.D and giving a presentation in California when he was approached by someone from NASA in 2007.
He was with the agency for seven years.
“I would put out a couple of applications per year,” Ray, who is from Frederick, Md., said of applying for teaching positions. “I wanted to be close to home, a small school, and I wanted to live in the mountains.”
He’s now in his third year of teaching at LFCC, which seemed like a good fit for him. He wanted to be able to lead small classes.
“I knew that I didn’t want to teach somewhere with 200 people in a class,” Ray said. “I think I bring something to it, that I’ve been out there and I’ve done research, and that would be different than someone who goes straight into [teaching from college]. I can talk about real applications of things, like lasers.”
In his spare time, Ray keeps his feet on the ground, running “obsessively.” This year, he completed his third 100-mile marathon.
Ray and his wife and young daughter live in Shenandoah County.