Physics and Applied Physics

Physics and Applied Physics
The TLU Physics Department carries out a commitment to high-quality individualized instruction for undergraduate students interested in a wide range of scientific or technical careers.

Our degree programs, combined with the small liberal arts setting, equip students with the scientific knowledge and skills needed to begin a wide range of careers or to enter graduate school. Through coursework, laboratory experiences, and faculty mentored research, students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.


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

The B.A. in Physics is intended for students seeking careers in physics education or careers not requiring graduate study in a science or technical field.

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

The B.S. in Physics will provide students seeking careers requiring graduate study in science or engineering fields with the necessary in-depth background of knowledge and skills.

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

The B.S in Applied Physics is designed to prepare students who intend to pursue a career in engineering or related field. Students will be prepared for either engineering graduate school or to enter the workforce, with a focus on lab experiences, practical application of physics knowledge and a capstone project that includes a design component.

Minor in Physics

Minor in Business of Science

  • Student Research

    TLU Physics students are encouraged to explore faculty mentored research opportunities in the first year of their physics experience. Our advanced lab courses hone the experimental skills needed to carry out more advanced laboratory work, while our computational methods courses provide the software foundations that are common in many laboratory settings. Laboratory work leads to the senior capstone experience where students work on a year-long (or more) independent project with a faculty mentor that culminates in a senior thesis and presentation at a professional conference. TLU students are active in state and national level professional scientific meetings.

    Students are encouraged to explore the wide range of summer opportunities offered by universities and industrial companies around the U.S. TLU students have participated in research at Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Duke, University of Florida, among others. Participation in research at other institutions or companies can be used as the basis for the senior capstone research work.

  • 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)

    TLU Physics has a national recognized chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS). SPS is a national organziation devoted to enhancement of the undergradaute physics experience. The TLU SPS chapter serves as the hub for community building and prefessional development within the department of physics through strong student leadership and dedicated faculty support.

    The TLU SPS meets weekly on Tuesdays at lunchtime. Each meeting of the SPS includes a program aimed at enhancing the curricular experience of students and provides an opportunity for students to self-determine the function and activities of the group. The TLU SPS chapter leads the department in number of civic engagtement and community outreach projects, including the annual Family Physics Night event, which brings over 300 visitors to the TLU campus for a public physics lecture, physics demonstrations and interactive physics activities. In 2014, TLU SPS was awarded the SPS National Marsh White Award for their outreach efforts.

    Several SPS students have been recognized nationally for their scholarship, including Wako Bungala ’13, Talitha Muehibra ’11 and Curtis Lee ’11. In 2014, TLU junior physics major, Vanessa Espinoza, was elected to represent the SPS Zone 13, which includes the entire state of Texas, as a member of the the SPS National Council, the governing body of SPS.

    All students are encouraged to become active members of SPS.

  • Physics Events & Guest Speakers

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

    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.

    Watch the video of Dr. Rogan's lecture on YouTube.


    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.

    View the photo gallery of the November 2014 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.

Physics is the most fundamental of all the natural sciences, aimed at understanding all parts of the natural world. In fact, the word “physics” stems from the Greek word phyusika, which translates to “natural things”. Students in physics degree programs learn the basic principles that govern the natural world and how to extend and apply those principles to solve new problems through experiment and mathematical analysis.

Small class size and a dedicated faculty allow TLU Physics students to thrive and grow as learners. Introductory laboratories are designed to bolster both content knowledge and practical skills. Several advanced labs, including a unique computational methods course sequence, allow students to hone experimental skills. Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-mentored independent research early on, and all students are required to complete a senior capstone research project. As part of the complete undergraduate experience, all students are encouraged to seek out one of many summer research or internship opportunities that host physics students around the U.S.

Students in physics are curious about how the universe works from the nano-scale interactions of biological systems to the mysteries of dark matter. At TLU Physics, our attention to the individual student allows that curiosity to manifest in a variety of ways, accommodating a vast range of career goals. Students with degrees in physics work in any field which values critical thinking skills, mathematical dexterity, analysis, creative problem solving. You will find physics degree holders in all areas of science and technology-related careers, as well as business, medicine, law and even economics.

Physics and Applied Physics Faculty

Toni Sauncy

Assoc. Professor, Department Chair

Calvin Berggren

Asst. Professor, 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.

Physics: Your Pathway to Engineering and so much more!

Interested in engineering? TLU's new B.S. in Applied Physics with optional pre-engineering concentration may be the degree for you. Check out the fact sheet about why you should majors in physics, the advantages of a physics bachelor's degree and all the career opportunities it can lead to.

Download the Fact Sheet

Schedule a visit with TLU Physics

 

Natural Science Course Offerings 

Summer 2015 & Fall 2015

Designed for non-math, non-science majors

Summer A: PHYS143: Physics of Modern World Issues (with Lab)

Summer B: PHYS144: Conceptual Physics (with Lab)

Fall Term: PHYS143: Physics of Modern World Issues (with Lab)

Download the flyer for more information