Adnan Akyüz, professor of climatological practice
Published January 2017
Akyüz is an enthusiastic, influential and admired instructor who seems to know everything related to the weather.
Akyüz, who is the state climatologist. joined NDSU in 2007. He teaches Introduction to Meteorology and Climatology and a graduate-level course, Microclimatology. He is preparing a new course, Wonders of Weather, that he hopes will be approved for fall 2017. Known throughout the region for his outreach to area schools, Akyüz is a familiar and highly regarded expert in his field.
How did you decide to pursue your profession?
Curiosity! I am always drawn to the unknown. I watch the sky, oceans and vast open spaces and often wonder what lies beyond what I know. Because the sky is limitless (as we know it) and the Earth’s atmosphere is so chaotic, I knew there would always be an unlimited amount of new knowledge to learn.
What do you like best about teaching?
I like seeing students change their behavior from “I need to take this course to graduate” to “I am really excited about coming to this class.”
Every year I teach the same course, but I learn something new about what and how I teach. That makes me a better teacher for my subsequent students.
What drives you as an excellent instructor?
When I enter the classroom, I do not know what kind of day it will be. It depends on so many factors: how challenging the topic is for the students, the students’ current level of interest and their mental whereabouts. Navigating these obstacles while maintaining attention is a challenge worth embracing – the reward is priceless.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I speak loud and use my hands and arms which makes me a natural kinesthetic teacher. I walk, run or jump depending on what I am trying to analogize to keep it as realistic as it is in the natural atmosphere. I always bring props in the classroom, such as a tornado machine, Coriolis table, leaf blower or a hard-boiled egg to explain how some of the forces that shape the atmosphere work.
How do you connect with students?
I hardly ever stand behind the podium when I am teaching. I am usually right next to students, making eye contact with every one of them. Their eyes can tell me if something does not make sense to them. If so, I can adjust with examples or impromptu analogies.
What is the most common trait of successful students?
Curiosity driving the initiative to know the unknown as well as flexibility to unlearn misconceptions and an openness to replace them with facts.
What has been the best moment of your teaching career so far?
Provost Ingram made an unexpected visit to my class on a very cold and windy day. She announced in class that I was receiving the Robert Odney Excellence in Teaching Award. My students applauded. I was so overwhelmed – no one minded that I called my wife in front of my students to share this humbling news with her.
What is something every student should experience before they graduate from NDSU?
The weather in Fargo is notoriously mentioned through the country and perhaps students were teased about it before coming to NDSU. They should take it in a positive way. By being in Fargo, they have the privilege to experience a blizzard up close. They can experience wind chills of -40°F and try to balance while walking in a 40 m.p.h. sustained head wind. They can see wonders of weather they otherwise would not be able to see elsewhere, such as: sun dogs, sun pillars, halo, diamond dust and the Aurora Borealis.
What makes NDSU a special place?
This is a community where everyone knows each other by name. We have common thrills such as NDSU football victories, and common pains such as the floods of the Red River. Regardless, we come together to celebrate the good and fight to overcome the bad.
What is your favorite NDSU tradition?
With the parade, 5K-run/walk, tailgating and the kick-off, it has to be the Homecoming tradition.
Akyüz earned his bachelor’s degree at the Istanbul Technical University, Turkey, and his master’s degree and doctorate in atmospheric science at the University of Missouri-Columbia.