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Passion for physics connects instructor and student


n NIC instructor is changing the world’s understanding of the universe and inspiring students to follow in her footsteps.

“I was astonished my first-year physics class was taught by a female professor who is also an

Jennifer Fallis Starhunter is one of a handful of scientists in the world with expertise to experimentally measure the rates of different nuclear reactions and processes in stellar explosions.

astrophysicist. I want to be her when I grow up.” Victoria Jancowski, NIC Dual Admission student

Most summers, she can be found at UBC’s TRIUMF lab, working with particle accelerators to conduct experiments that mimic what happens when stars explode. In the fall and winter, she’s back at NIC sharing her expertise with first-year physics and engineering students, such as Victoria Jancowski.

inviting her to a group tour of TRIUMF this summer and encouraging her to take on research work in university.

“I was astonished my first-year physics class was taught by a female professor who is also an astrophysicist,” said Jancowski, who will study physics at UVic this fall. “I want to be her when I grow up.”

NIC physics student Victoria Jancowski will transfer seamlessly to UVic this September, as part of NIC’s partnership with UVic. Jancowski was inspired by her instructor Jennifer Fallis Starhunter (right).

Through most of high school, Jancowski’s passion for physics set her apart. She bonded with a few students and teachers who understood her dream of studying high energy particle physics at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland but not many of them were women.

hundreds of other students. We never would have talked.”

When she realized Fallis Starhunter, an international expert in her chosen field, would teach her first-year physics class, she was beyond excited.

Fallis Starhunter’s specialty is relatively new, developed with technology and experiments made possible by high powered particle accelerators in Switzerland, New York, Illinois and BC. In 2015, she was one of five speakers invited to Cyprus to present her research on one of the least understood and therefore most mysterious of processes that takes place when stars explode.

“I’m so lucky to have met her,” Victoria said. “If I had started at UVic I would have been in a lecture hall with

The two have developed quite a bond — with Fallis Starhunter lending Jancowski nuclear physics textbooks,

“I have a complex specialty but if students have an understanding of the basics it’s not that hard to explain how it works,” she said. “If I taught at a larger institution, I might not have the opportunity to make such a strong one-on-one connection with students like Victoria.” Under NIC’s Dual Admission Agreement with UVic, first signed in 2011, Jancowski is able to transition to university-level courses, develop new friendships and qualify for $4,000 in scholarships from both institutions. “NIC’s university partnerships and degree pathways provide North Island students a solid foundation for success,” said Lisa Domae, NIC’s Vice President of Learning and Students. “Students can stay at home, save money and access personalized instruction and services for up to two years while they guarantee their seat at university.” Find out more, visit

Between 1986 and 1989, more than 30 courses were offered via personal microcomputers. NIC became renowned for its computer instruction methods and a model for institutions in Canada and abroad. Courses were delivered on floppy disks or delivered by mobile training facilities.



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NIC’s Port Alberni campus increases its support staff to four at the Smith Memorial campus. Space is so tight support staff still remember the bruises from bumping into desks, typewriters and computer equipment.

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Profile for North Island College

NIC 40th Anniversary Publication  

NIC 40th Anniversary Publication  


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