Scott the Scientist


Jamie Setzler, Staff Writer

Lasers, fantasies, candy-obsessed co-workers, science, and so much more. This is the world that Scott Setzler lives in when working as a physicist at BAE Systems with a PhD, despite avoiding the use of the title of “Doctor” ever.

“I’ve always been interested in how things work,” Scott remarks when asked about what sparked his interest in science. It’s clear that from the time he was young, Scott loved learning about the nature of inventions and innovations. He said this was the number one thing drawing him to science (specifically physics), since none of his family members shared his interest in science. However, he looks up to Einstein, Feynman, and many more scientists. His job as a physicist has even allowed him to meet some famous scientists, such as the nephew of the Nobel Prize winner Wolfgang Pauli.

Meeting intriguing scientists is not the only perk of his job. In 2005 he was lucky enough to speak in Sydney, Australia and take his wife and two-year-old daughter with him. In addition to that he gets to, of course, do what he loves and work with lasers.

With all of this it’s easy for Scott to say that he has no doubts about his choice in jobs. Despite what he says now, he wasn’t always so certain. In college he had another job in mind. “I’d be an archaeologist,” he was quick to say before adding, “like Indiana Jones.” He made it crystal clear that if he were an archaeologist he would be Harrison Ford’s famous character and NOT Ross Geller.

Relating himself to fictional characters appears to be nothing out of the ordinary since he had no trouble relating himself to a beloved Marvel character. “I look like Thor,” he said without missing a beat, truly believing this fantasy… despite lacking Thor’s gold locks. This is what he believed to be the most interesting thing about him when not thinking about science.

As a result of these jokes, his humorous personality, and the candy bowl kept in his office, he’s quite popular at work. Many people will show up to his office and pretend that they have a question just to get whatever the current candy is (which Scott mentioned was currently Chicklets). Despite the candy jar, Scott is convinced that people at work genuinely like him, and not just the Reese’s or Starburst. Whether they actually like him or not, Scott says that his co-workers are easy to work with.

Scott eventually began to reminisce on his past, specifically his schooling leading up to his doctorate and career. He talked about going to Dickinson College in the late 80s before advancing to West Virginia University to receive his doctorate. He was also not hesitant to spill who his favorite teacher was. “Hans Pfister,” he said quickly, speaking of one of his professors. This was one of the teachers that he found made science more fun than in high school and helped him learn that doing is more than sitting down with a textbook. He said that the high school courses were bland but once he got to college his love for science truly caught fire.

These classes, of course, is what led him to where he is now. He went from making an electromagnet in a class like the college course he spoke fondly of (which he said was his favorite thing from any class he ever took) to making his favorite, and complicated, laser. “For your purposes, let’s call it a Diode Pumped Solid State Holmium Laser,” Scott said when trying to explain the lasers he makes in simple terms for the general community.

When talking, Scott made it very clear that he loves his job and the complicated lasers. He enjoys all of the work he does, the people he gets to meet, and the joy he gets to have. Scott certainly breaks the typical scientist stereotype through his cheesy jokes and funny personality, even throwing in a few lame science puns to seal the deal, showing that physics is a part of all aspects of his life.

“It’s the best of all sciences!” he said simply, ending the conversation on an effervescent note that once again assured his love for physics.