Class Act: Physics teacher Ryan DePuit

Ryan DePuit switched to teaching physics after being a researcher for Dow Chemical Company.

Reygan Jones

Ryan DePuit switched to teaching physics after being a researcher for Dow Chemical Company.

Manar Ansari and James Sy

Six months ago, physics teacher Ryan DePuit was a research scientist at a chemical manufacturing company.

DePuit worked for the Dow Chemical in new product development. He improved and devised products for a variety of applications, such as plastic packaging, drug delivery and electronic materials. He worked on identifying or altering chemical compositions of different products, including finding the chemical makeup that would slow the rate of extended release tablets dissolving or identifying oil field chemicals that allow more oil to be extracted from existing wells.

“It’s very fundamental, understanding how things work and why they work and how to improve them,” DePuit said. “It’s conceptual, but there’s always applications or a market for it.”     

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, DePuit but grew up in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005 with a degree in Chemical Engineering, then earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of California Santa Barbara in 2011. He has been living in Houston ever since.

DePuit never expected that he would become a high school teacher and stop working in industry, but his love of helping people made teaching a long-time passion.

“It’s rewarding to help students understand what’s going on in the world and developing that sense of how and why things work the way they do,” DePuit said.

Although it was a huge adjustment to go from a researching scientist to a high school teacher, DePuit has enjoyed his experience thus far.

“It’s truly a different world from what I was doing as a practicing scientist. Instead of working on my own, I’m working with students, which is awesome,” DePuit said. “I’m very happy and excited to come to school every day.”

Although DePuit majored in Chemical Engineering, he chose to teach physics because of its real-world applications and its relevance to his academic and industry experience.

“It’s not something abstract; it’s the physical world around you,” DePuit said. “There’s always hands-on experiments or demos you can do, or ways you can relate it to your everyday life.”

DePuit aims to keep his class fun and show students how physics reflects the real world.

“He’s very nice and considerate,” junior Grace Meng said. “He’s always willing to help us succeed.”

Susan Bigge, fellow physics teacher and Head of the Science Department, enjoys working with DePuit. She notices the number of students who frequently come to him for help.

“What’s most notable is the students feel able to approach him,” Bigge said. “Before and after class, he’s helping people out and working with them.”

DePuit has enjoyed teaching and working with the students.

“The students here seem to be responsible, driven and actually want to learn,” DePuit said. “I’m not trying to motivate them, just providing information or questions to get them going.”

DePuit was “blown away” by the school’s beautiful, college-like campus. He was also impressed by the friendly people and welcoming environment.

“It’s a place that students actually want to come to school and that I actually want to come to teach,” DePuit said.

In his free time, DePuit keeps busy.

“I try to stay active. I’m pretty involved in the tennis community around Houston. I am trying to get together with friends to run a half-marathon every year,” DePuit said. “I’m also trying to get back into photography. When I was in grad school, I had an event-photography side business, so I also enjoy that.”

CHECK OUT DePUIT’s RUNNING MUSIC REC (Half-marathon edition):