People

Ben Preis, A'15

Ben Preis

Current occupation:
I currently work for a lobbying and consulting firm in Washington, DC that helps universities and research associations navigate the federal government. I work specifically with faculty in engineering and physical sciences, covering issues relating to the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, among others.

How do you use your physics background and training in your line of work?
Though I don't use the equations or theories I learned in physics on a regular basis, the broad base of knowledge I acquired in physics at Tufts has been invaluable. When interacting with faculty members in engineering or the physical sciences, having a solid foundation in physics allows me to better understand their interests and scope of research. Instead of being removed from my physics classes, my job allows me to build on my base of knowledge and expand it in a variety of directions, from mechanical engineering to materials science, albeit in a fairly informal setting. Furthermore, the thought processes of physics — breaking problems down, carefully considering alternate paths and explanations — makes me a better thinker on the job.

Did the Tufts physics department prepare you for your current career path?
The physics department did a superb job of preparing me for a field in which clear communication of science is vital. The many group projects and presentations during the higher-level physics courses taught me how to explain science in a non-technical manner in a way that nonetheless preserves the science. At work, I often speak with a non-technical audience, and being able to absorb technical research and then speak with policymakers in lay terms is one of the most important part of my job.

What is your favorite memory of your time in the Tufts physics department?
During the Physics 13 Course taught by Timothy Atherton, we had a group project to explain a topic from class (special relativity) in a video format at the 8th grade level. A group of us got together, wrote a script, and produced a four-minute video. The project was so unusual for a physics class — and an absolute blast. It's still available on YouTube! This video actually helped me get an internship in science communication, leading me on my current path. Had the physics department at Tufts not had such a strong emphasis on improving undergraduate pedagogy, I'm not sure I would have had this experience or many others that made my time in the department so beneficial and unique.