Northwest College

Teaching & Learning Center

Faculty spotlights

Learn more about what makes Northwest college’s faculty truly excellent! 

In collaboration with The Committee on Faculty Development and Morale and the office of College Relations, the TLC is excited to showcase the great work of Northwest College's educators! In this faculty spotlight series, we will feature members of our faculty that are recognized by nominations from their peers based on demonstrated excellence in teaching, mentoring/advising, service, or scholarship. Spotlights will also be promoted by the Marketing, Communications & Web office in a variety of media.

Deepthi Amarasuriya

Posted: November 3, 2022

When it comes to being far from home, Northwest College Assistant Professor of Physics Deepthi Amarasuriya can relate to any student who may be trying to adapt to a new place and a new culture. Almost 9,000 miles from where she grew up on the island nation of Sri Lanka, Deepthi has had to make those same adjustments herself, first as an undergrad at Purdue University, and then while completing a M.S. in Physics at Idaho State University and another M.S. in Mathematics at the University of Wyoming.

Shortly after she completed her work at UW, Deepthi was offered a position at Northwest College in the fall of 2006. It was the first place she interviewed, and it’s been home ever since. The small-college setting has allowed her to teach students in a way that may not have been possible at many of the other schools where she had initially applied. She attributes that to NWC’s low faculty-to-student ratio that allows for more one-on-one time.

“Here, the faculty can guide students more individually, personalize the advice we give, and even personalize the content,” Deepthi says. “Everything here is more personal.”

While Deepthi is an expert in physic, many students and colleagues don’t know she also studied classical piano in Sri Lanka. She may not have pursued that professionally, but her time as a grad student at Idaho State coincided with that of a well-known concert pianist from England, and she capitalized on the rare chance to take lessons from such a renowned performer.

“He just wanted a quiet place where he could teach and perform, and he chose ISU. I was very lucky he was around at the same time I was.”

Deepthi is the one providing the education now, but she still takes time to update her own knowledge. In the spring of 2018, she took a semester off for a sabbatical at Montana State University where she sat in on lectures, took part in classes, and learned new techniques and methods to incorporate into her classes at NWC. While in Bozeman, she also had the opportunity to work with MSU’s Gravity Research Group which studies extreme astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and neutron stars. It’s the same group that was part of an international collaboration that contributed to the first detection of gravitational waves and won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, and it’s that type of experience that Deepthi is now able to pass along to her students at Northwest College.