As a Physics AOC at New College, you have access to top-notch facilities and equipment that are rarely available at other leading liberal arts colleges. For instance, we opened our Optical Spectroscopy and Nanomaterials Lab in January of 2012 with a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, becoming the first and only undergraduate liberal arts college in the nation to offer such a lab.
Our Physics AOC is designed to provide a thorough grounding in the central areas of physics, giving you the flexibility to pursue individual interests in depth. We offer courses and tutorials in theoretical, experimental and computational physics for majors and non-majors. Students participating in the Physics program become familiar with the facts and processes of physics and learn to think logically. Those whose interests expand beyond the introductory level will find small classes, intensive work and challenging projects. They will also find state-of-the-art equipment for doing research in the laboratory, including an atomic force microscope, a micro-Raman spectrometer, an X-ray diffractometer, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, micro-spectrophotometer and a differential scanning calorimeter. Joint or double Areas of Concentration with other disciplines are possible. For example, combinations of Physics with Mathematics or Chemistry are common. Some of our graduates go on to work for industry or government but most continue their education in graduate school.
Students majoring in our Physics AOC are required to take a two-semester Introductory Physics sequence with labs, Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Modern Physics with lab, Optics, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics. In addition to these core courses, electives are offered in Advanced Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Physics Lab, Essential Electronics, Mathematical Methods for Physicists and Solid State Physics, as well as a wide variety of tutorials and independent study projects arranged with your faculty advisor. As with all disciplines at New College, an essential part of our Physics program is undergraduate research leading to the completion of a senior thesis. Our faculty in Physics is well equipped to offer theses in a wide range of areas. See our list of student theses for examples of recent topics covered.
Some students also choose to take physics as part of a joint area of concentration, or slash AOC as we call it. Slash AOCs combine two disciplines (e.g., Physics/Mathematics) with study in each but not quite enough for a full major in either. For a slash AOC in Physics, we require the two semester Introductory Physics sequence with labs, Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Modern Physics with lab.
In addition to coursework at New College, our Physics students routinely do paid summer research at universities and government laboratories around the country as part of the NSF funded REU program. Faculty can assist students in applying for these opportunities.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Physics:
Seeing the Light
Structure of Nature
Selected Physics Topics for the Life Sciences
Honors Physics I
Physics I Laboratory
Honors Physics II
Physics II Laboratory
Modern Physics Laboratory
Electricity and Magnetism
Computer Simulation Methods
Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
Advanced Physics Laboratory
Mathematical Methods for Physicists
Solid State Physics
Quantum Mechanics II
For a complete list of courses, click here.
Thomas Bell, Ph.D. ’64 is a scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA and a senior meteorologist in the Laboratory for Atmospheres.
New College is proud of the many Physics graduates who have contributed to the field. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
• Gregory Dubois-Felsmann ’77, a Rhodes Scholar, is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in the field of experimental particle physics. As a staff scientist at Caltech and a member of the executive committee for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), he is currently working with more than 600 physicists and engineers at 75 institutions in 10 different countries studying the relationship between matter and antimatter.
• Paul Hansma is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and directs the Paul Hansma Research Group, which has been developing Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) for almost twenty years. Their focus on creating AFMs especially suited for biophysical research has led to many discoveries in biomaterials. In addition to research using AFMs, his group has begun development of a mechanical Reference Point Indentation (RPI) instrument (formerly known as the Bone Diagnostic Instrument, BDI, and the Tissue Diagnostic Instrument, TDI) to measure bone fracture risk in living patients.
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Physics
• Brandeis University
|Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Physics:
“Lorentz Violating Extensions of the Nuclear Shell Model” by Steven Wilcox
“Phase Transitions of BaTiO3 Nanoparticles Studied by Differential Scanning Calorimeter” by Emily Myers
“Investigating the origin of the Pioneer anomaly through Java computer modeling” by Kathleen Kiker
“Experimental Thermal Analysis of Aqueous Al2O3 Nanofluids” by Katherine McAlpine
“Monte Carlo Simulations for Lorentz Violating Bose-Einstein Condensates” by Brenton Boland
“Water Purification in the Global South” by Meagan Patrick
“Sudoku Scheming: Am Algebraic Combinatorial Approach to Discovering Properties of Sudoku Graphs using Association Schemes” by Ziva Myer
“Measurement of the Proton Spin Structure Function g1 with Data from the EG1-DVCS Experiment” by Christopher Pedersen
“Simulating Electromagnetic Wave Propagation using Multi-Scale Time-Domain Methods and Iterative Algorithms” by Kerry Keys
“Sequestration and Stabilization: Taming the Black Hole” by Patrick Dees
“Thickness and Refractive Index Measurements of Transparent Thin Films” by Andrew Hammer
“Micro-Raman Study of Filled Double-Walled Carbon Nanotubes” by Tom Hartsfield
“Optical Properties of Noble Metal Nanoparticles in Dielectric Thin Films” by Robin Jacobs-Gedrim
“Microsolvation of the Cyanyl Radical: Competition Between Hydrogen Bonding and Electrostatic Non-Covalent Interactions” by Jacob Bloom
“Raman Studies of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Suspended in Polystyrene” by Ross DeMike
“Numerical Analysis of the Spring Pendulum System using MATLAB” by Matthew Brannock
“Experimental Study of Polyaniline Chemical Actuators for Bending Silicon Wafers” by Denise Hoover
“Raman Spectroscopy of Te Filled Double-Walled Carbon Nanotubes” by Michael Aldridge
“Lepton Pair Production Due to e-e+ Pair Annihilation in the Presence of Spontaneous Lorentz-Symmetry Violation” by Raul Briceno
“Rutherford and Bremsstrahlung Scattering in the Presence of Lorentz Symmetry Violation” by Colwyn Gulliford
“Raman Spectroscopy of PbI2 Double-Walled Carbon Nanotubes” by Bryan DeBono
“Star Formation and Metallicity in High EQW(Ha) Galaxies: A Search for Metal-Poor Candidates” by Jennifer E. Pollack
“Surface Plasmon Resonance of Noble Metal Nanoparticles in Thin Film Dielectric Matrices” by Rose Ruther
“The Physics of Tachyons” by Tim Sanchez
“Thin Gold Films Sputter Deposition and Optical Characterization” by Tik Sun
“Technology and Creativity: The Role of Compositional Tools in the Shaping of Music” by Audrey R. Troutt
“Study of the Helical Field Coil and the Ohmic Heating Coil Systems in the Compact Toroidal Hybrid” by Emily Dangelmaier
“Carbon Nanoparticles” by Peter Dow
“The Nonrelativistic Limit of Fermionic Operators with Lorentz Violation” by Homer F. Wolfe
“Implementation of Density Functional Theory and Application of DFT to the Chlorine/Benzene Adduct” by Steven Edge Wheeler
“Using Homotopy Groups to Detect Topological Defects with Applications to a Loentz-Violating Theory” by Selena Lee
“Coil Impedance in the Presence of an Axially Symmetric Conductor” by Dustin Soodak
“Curved, Periodic Crack Patterns in Thin Sol-Gel Films” by Keely Willis
“Quantum Chemistry & Methyl Transfer” by Robert Sidney Cox, III
“Simulating Emulating: Associative Memory in Spiking Neural Networks” by Brian Hallmark
“Trucking: The Vehicle Routing Problem and Improvement Graph Local Search” by Abram Steele-Feldman
Heiser Natural Sciences Complex includes teaching and research labs for Chemistry, Biology, Computational Science, Mathematics and Physics. The complex is home to a new state of-the-art Optical Spectroscopy and Nano-Materials Laboratory. The lab was funded through a multi-year grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. It is the largest federal grant in New College’s history. The faculty believe the lab gives students a rare opportunity to be involved as researchers and as co-authors on scientific papers. Learn more.
Beyond the regular course level, there are laboratories for doing advanced projects. These include measuring the speed of light with a rotating mirror apparatus, measuring the strength of gravity with a Cavendish setup, studying crystal structure with X-rays, making electronic measurements on semiconductors, performing optical experiments with lasers, doing precision optical interferometry, analyzing acoustical signals with a spectrum analyzer, making nuclear counts with a multichannel analyzer, and measuring optical spectra with a UV-VIS miniature fiber optic apparatus. Physics has two computer-controlled optical telescopes, a Meade 10.5″ LX200, and a Meade 127ED 5″ refractor. Additional state-of-the-art equipment includes an atomic force microscope, a micro-Raman spectrometer, an X-ray diffractometer, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, micro-spectrophotometer and a differential scanning calorimeter.
• Professor Mariana Sendova, the lead investigator in the Optical Spectroscopy and Nano-Materials Lab, is involving her students in research that few liberal arts undergraduates can participate in. For example, they’ve been analyzing glazes on sculptures at the Ringling Museum of Art in research that will impact the historical and conservational aspects of art. “The lab is one of the most important developments New College has to be proud of,” she says. The $1.7 million lab in the Heiser Natural Sciences building collaborates with research institutes in Sweden, Germany, France, South Africa and Australia.
You might also be interested in…
• Study the planets and stars in the New College’s Astronomy Club.