Jay Brett


I am broadly interested in teaching mathematics, physics, oceanography, computational methods, and climate science. Below, I describe my past experience, followed by information on courses under development.

Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Physical Oceanography

This is a graduate course in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. I assisted Magdalena Andres and Jake Gebbie by holding office hours, running reviews, grading homeworks, and giving one lecture.

Instructor and Organizer of the WHOI Summer Math Review

Ben Jones and I took over the organization of the WHOI summer math review for incoming graduate students after we took it in 2012. We redesigned the review to be student-taught and set the curriculum based on interviewing the instructors of graduate courses. I and co-organizers recruited student instructors, communicated with incoming students, and provided evaluations. In the following years, I covered material on differential equations, nondimensionalization, algebra, and calculus. ODE review part 1 (pdf) ODE review part 2 (pdf) Nondimensionalization(pdf)

Co-Instructor, Equations of Geophysics

Graduate course with co-instructor Kelvin Richards, using Advanced Engineering Mathematics, 2nd Ed. by M. Greenberg. I taught ordinary differential equations and parabolic partial differential equations, about 40% of the course; I developed lectures, assigned homework, and graded it. Spring terms 2019, 2020.

Undergraduate courses (under development)

These are courses I would be happy to teach. Draft syllabi were developed during time on the academic job market, and may be modified to fit your institution and your students. Graduate courses on similar topics are also of interest for me.

Introduction to Oceanography

This course introduces the physical, chemical, geological, and biological foundations for understanding the world ocean. It is one option for an introductory course in Earth Science, fulfills the quantitative reasoning curriculum requirement, and provides students with practice in verbal presentations. In this course, we explore the role of the ocean in the Earth system, including connections to the atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere, as well as human and societal interactions. Oceanography Syllabus (pdf)

Physics of Geophysical Fluids

This course introduces the physics of fluids, from the basis of the Navier-Stokes equations which describe conservation of momentum. In the context of geophysics, we examine several situational simplifications which allow analytic solutions: flow through a pipe or channel, the flow of a glacier, cyclostrophic flow, geostrophic flow, and the changes of concentration of pollutants in a controlled volume. In each case, we will derive the simplified equation and use both analytic solutions and real data to understand each physical process. Geophysical Fluids Syllabus (pdf)

Climate Change in the 21st Century

Earth’s climate is changing rapidly. This seminar course focuses on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and associated scientific articles describing the predicted changes, their causes, and their impacts. Class includes discussions of scientific research, science communication, and science policy on the topics of both natural sciences and the impacts on society. We cover historical successes and failures of global regulations. Students will present and write about both natural science and its impacts, including one op-ed relating to local issues. Assignments focus on improving written and verbal communication of science, with significant peer review. Climate Change Syllabus (pdf)


This course introduces the atmospheric, lithospheric, terrestrial, marine, and global cycles for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, as well as discussing the water and energy associated with these cycles. We follow the elements most necessary for life on earth from their origins in the universe through the present day and consider their future in a warming climate. Students also learn the format of scientific articles and develop their abilities in analyzing these resources. Biogeochemistry Syllabus (pdf)

Differential Calculus

Calculus was developed in the 17th century to accurately describe motion and change. This course covers the concepts of the limit, the derivative, and the integral, and covers a variety of techniques for computing derivatives. We will also cover applications, where derivatives are used for science and engineering.

Physics 1: Mechanics

A calculus-based introduction to the concepts and principles of mechanics, emphasizing translational and rotational kinematics and dynamics, work and energy, conservation laws, and gravitation. Hands-on exploration of physical systems in labs are used to elucidate physical principles. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including: problem solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, and development and execution ofexperiments.

Integral Calculus

This is a continuation from Differential Calculus. Beginning with the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, we will cover the concept of anti-differentiation, which is integration. We will use multiple formulations to find the area under curves as limits, followed by continuous methods of integration for common functions. Again, examples applicable to science and engineering will be featured.

Physics 2: Electricity and Magnetism

This is a continuation of introductory physics from Mechanics, above. Calculus-based introduction to waves, optics, electricity, and magnetism. Hands-on exploration of physical systems in labs are used to elucidate principles covered in seminar-style meetings. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including: problem solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, and development and execution ofexperiments.