Physics

Physics
At TLU, physics majors apply scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills to challenge their perspective of the universe.

Through experimentation and theory, our students develop a deep understanding of physical phenomena. The physics department provides a solid science education essential for students wishing to enter careers in the health sciences, engineering and education.


The Physics Programs students will explore the four core principles of physics: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. Physics students encounter various disciplines through small introductory classes before choosing a field. Unlike in many physics programs, students at TLU begin their lab experience their very first semester. Physics majors end their university career with an independent research project assisted by faculty in the department.

The core physics principles of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics form the basis for several fields of science, industry, engineering and education.

Our physics students gain valuable hands-on lab experience from the first year, spearhead independent research projects and branch out to other universities offering summer Research Experience for Undergraduates. Students have the opportunity to work in teams to design and engineer autonomous robots. Advanced software such as MATLAB™ and virtual test instrumentation program LabVIEW™ are available to students as well. They learn experimental techniques using the tools of their trade, such as digital data acquisition and analysis, analog and digital electronic test equipment, and nuclear counting and spectroscopy instrumentation.

Physics

  • Student Research

    In our advanced lab courses, students work on projects in pairs, learning experimental techniques. In these labs students get to work with radiation, create single photon diffraction, analyze chaotic oscillations, measure the speed of light and much more.

    Students in their final year work on an independent research project for their senior capstone. This work uses many physics classes to produce a piece of scientific research. Recent projects include building and analyzing a baseball air cannon, measuring coefficient of restitution of baseball bats and golf clubs and analyzing the dynamics of a golf swing.

    Students also can do summer research with faculty at TLU. The summer leading to their senior year, students are encouraged to take part in REU’s (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at universities outside of TLU. Recently, TLU students have worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Duke University, University of Florida, MIT-Haystack Observatory and more.

  • Careers in Physics

    Excelling in physics requires development and expertise in a very broad skill set. Combined with the liberal arts education at TLU, the physics department provides graduates with a highly employable blend of skills, such as problem solving, computer programming, experimental design, technical writing, oral presentations, independent research and teamwork. Many professions rely on these skills, which is why they are the very foundation of the physics curriculum. The American Institute of Physics reports that in 2008, a survey of starting salaries offered by campus recruiters to students graduating with a bachelor's in physics ranged from $40,000 to $64,000.

    Here is a small sampling of the kind of careers physics majors might pursue upon completing their bachelor's (statistics from the AIP website):

    • Academia: As of 2007, about 35% of students with bachelor's in physics go into graduate school in physics or astronomy. For most physics graduate programs, schools pay tuition plus a stipend (actual numbers can be found at gradschoolshopper.com). In return, students are expected to research and/or be a teaching assistant. A master's in physics typically takes two to three years, while a Ph.D. in physics takes about five to six years.
    • Medical School: Students with a degree in physics routinely score higher than biology majors on the MCAT, the entrance exam for medical school. Students wishing to go to medical school with a physics degree are strongly urged to at least also minor in biology.
    • Engineering: This is the largest field of employment for physics majors. The problem solving skills developed through coursework in physics are highly sought after in this field.
    • Consulting: Many companies hire consultants to assist in solving problems with their company. The development of problem solving for a physics major makes this an ideal match.
    • Law: Physics majors are continually the top-scoring major on the LSAT, the entrance exam to law school. Many companies hire physicists to be expert witnesses when scientific information needs to be explained to a jury.
    • Teaching: There is a need for high school physics teachers. In 2009, only 35% of high school physics teachers have a degree in physics or physics education. Increasing the number of high school teachers with an interest in physics will increase the morale, perception and prestige of the field.
  • Society of Physics Students (SPS)

    While we do work hard here in the physics department, we also play hard. We have multiple activities going on every semester. We have Wii parties every other week. We have at least one big picnic every year. We do a liquid nitrogen ice cream social every semester. We also have the Annual Physics Can Roll.

    We started an outreach project where we helped Luling Junior High students learn some robotics. Society of Physics Student (SPS) students mentored 12 students on how to program, build and test robots to follow multiple mazes.

    We also have our induction dinner in the spring for students inducted to Sigma Pi Sigma, SPS’s national physics honor society.

    National members of SPS (and Sigma Pi Sigma) are eligible for scholarships. Wako Bungula ‘13 was awarded a scholarship from SPS for the 2012-2013 school year. Talitha Muehlbrad ‘11 and Curtis Lee ’11 were awarded Sigma Pi Sigma honors awards in the 2010-2011 school year.

  • Physics Events & Guest Speakers

    Family Physics Night

    Since 2013, the TLU physics department and SPS have invited families and aspiring physicists of all ages to campus for live interactive demonstrations of the basic principles of physics. This serves as a fun, educational night for prospective students to learn more about the physics program at TLU and to get great ideas for science fair projects.

    Join us November 6, 2014 for the next Family Physics Night!


    The Physics of Football

    Discover the science of bone-crunching hits, soaring field goals, and awe-inspiring passes with Tim Gay, professor of physics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Get in on the action!


    "From Science Fiction to Reality" with Dr. Herman Batelaan, theoretical physicist

    What is the current status of teleportation, faster than light phenomena, and gravitational shielding? Quantum teleportation, lightning effects such as “Elves”, and levitating frogs have all been in the news, and are effects that are actually observed. They are also related to the ideas that make such science fiction series as Star Trek work. But are the observed effects really related to their science fiction counterparts, or is this all just smart marketing? And what is the current status of the research? The answers are perhaps even more surprising than the fiction.

    Listen to the lecture on iTunes U.

Major in Physics for a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree

Major in Physics for a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree

Minor in Physics

Minor in Business of Science

Physics Faculty

Toni Sauncy

Assoc. Professor, Department Chair

Calvin Berggren

Visiting Asst. Prof, Physics

Jerry Carr, Jr.

Asst. Professor

Erin Scanlon

Lecturer, Physics

View All Faculty

Why Physics at TLU?

Physics students encounter various disciplines through small introductory classes before choosing a field. Hands-on experience is acquired with engineering concepts, software and laboratory tools. Students participate in team projects in engineering design of autonomous robots using the physics shop and computer labs; engineering computation and analysis using MATLAB™ and virtual test instrumentation using LabView™; commercial software packages widely used in modern engineering and applied science. Physics labs introduce students to digital data acquisition and analysis, analog and digital electronic test equipment, and nuclear counting and spectroscopy instrumentation.

Example Course Schedules & Degree Plans

Example Course Schedule for Physics

Physics (B.A.) Degree Plan

Physics (B.S.) Degree Plan

Physics Fact Sheet

Upcoming Physics Events

The CERN Super Collider: Searching for new particles, forces and phenomena

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. at Moody Science Hall, Room 101

Dr. Christopher Rogan presents the SPS Public Lecture in Physics. Get a glimpse into the subatomic world of the Large Hadron Collider, its experiments on the physics frontier and the answers it may hold to the universe unknown.

Family Physics Night

TLU Family Physics Night 2014 on November 6

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Jackson Park Student Activity Center

Ages 0-116 are welcome to come experience physics phenomenon and get ideas for your next science fair project. Interactive physics experiments include singing inanimate objects and the physics of light & sound with a bonus big bursting demonstration.

 Events are free and open to the public.