Academics

The 15th Sheridan A. Simon Distinguished Alumni Lecture

Friday, March 28, 2014

Time: 5:00PM
Location: Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Auditorium of the Frank Family Science Center

Visit this link

The 15th Sheridan A. Simon Distinguished Alumni lecture, "Faith in the Future: Astrophysics - The Cross-Link between Past, Present, and Future," will be presented by Julie Crooke ’87. Julie is Aerospace Technologist, Technical Management, Astrophysics Line of Business Manager at NASA.

What is NASA astrophysics up to today? What questions have been answered and what discoveries have been made? What are the current and future compelling unanswered science questions? What are the tools the science community, nationally and internationally, are using and building to answer these questions? A survey of past, present, and future astrophysics will be explored in reference to these age-old questions:

Are We Alone in the Universe?
How did we get here?
How does the universe work?

The talk is free and open to the public.

The lecture honors Sheridan A. Simon, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., who was a physics professor at Guilford from 1974 until his death in 1994. An acclaimed teacher, he was one of the first college educators nationally to foresee the utility of computer software packages in helping students master basic science concepts. He had a passionate interest in science fiction, and not only wrote and published science fiction, but also designed physically plausible planets for other writers. He helped create the honors program at Guilford and was named Jefferson-Pilot Professor of Physics at the college in 1993.

Physics

Physics is the study of how the universe works. From the smallest of sub-atomic particles to the largest clusters of galaxies, physicists try to take apart the pieces of reality and observe how they fit together. When a piece of the puzzle fits into place in your understanding, the world around you looks different. From this understanding, one can see more clearly the dance of nature and the rules that govern it.

RemoteElectronicsPhysics5_2011_Kannoy.jpg

Physics students at Guilford come from a variety of backgrounds and have a broad spectrum of interests and career goals. About one-third of our physics majors plan for employment in a technical field immediately after graduation. Another third pursue graduate study in physics or astronomy. The remaining third go on to advanced study in another field. The common thread connecting the different goals and focuses of our students and faculty is the physicist’s approach to thinking about, modeling and understanding the universe. This process relies on clear, analytical, and often abstract thinking but is ultimately grounded in concrete reality as exposed by experiment. These skills are of value in not only science and engineering but also business, law, medicine and many other endeavors.

To embrace the diverse interests of our student population, the physics curriculum is flexible and personalized. We emphasize research and experimentation throughout our program, allowing students to follow their interests. In introductory courses, students learn to work with equipment, quantify experimental uncertainties, and hone their scientific writing. The experimental physics sequence stresses laboratory techniques, cooperative research, and clear, thoughtful presentation of results. In this sequence of courses, students design experiments, act as principal investigators, write journal articles, and give talks for peer review. In short, they learn how to perform self-directed research. This research experience culminates in a thesis project that must be original and designed by the student. The program thus provides a coherent developmental process that gives students the skills they need to succeed.

DEGREE OFFERED

The Bachelor of Science degree is offered in physics.

We offer degrees in the following tracks:
  • B.S. in physics for students pursuing employment in a technical field
  • B.S. in physics for students preparing for graduate study
  • B.S. in physics for students preparing for graduate study in astrophysics
  • B.S. in physics for students preparing for engineering

Note: PHYS 101, 106, 107, 108, 109, and 461 do not apply toward major.

Physics Major

Bachelor of Science

The major requires a minimum of 36 credit hours (nine courses). Course work in mathematics is required to prepare students for courses in physics. Course work in chemistry is also required for the pre-engineering track.

CHOOSE TWO COURSES (4 credits)
PHYS 231 Experimental Physics I - 2 credits
PHYS 232 Experimental Physics II - 2 credits

PHYS 370 Physics Research - 4 credits
PHYS 470 Senior Thesis or PHYS 490 Departmental Honors Thesis - 4 credits

24 credits of additional physics courses
The technical track requires one 400-level theory course - 4 credits
The graduate study track requires three 400-level theory courses - 12 credits
The astrophysics track requires PHYS 210, PHYS 443 and two additional 400-level theory courses - 16 credits
The pre-engineering track requires one 400-level theory course and at least two of PHYS 202, PHYS 226 and PHYS 324 - 12 credits

Total credit hours required for B.S. degree in physics – 36 credits

Physics Minor

Minor

The common thread connecting the different goals and focuses of students pursuing a physics minor is the physicist’s approach to thinking about, modeling and understanding the universe. This process relies on clear, analytical and often abstract thinking but is ultimately grounded in concrete reality as exposed by experiment. Reaching a clear, realistic understanding of some aspect of the world is of value in not only science and engineering but also business, medicine, law and many other fields.

The physics minor will be most useful for majors in other sciences or education who wish to increase their exposure to analytical, mathematical and computational tools which they may later wish to use in their chosen fields of study. These may include chemistry majors interested in physical chemistry, geology majors interested in geophysics and biology majors interested in biophysics. Mathematics majors wishing to gain experiences with hands-on, real-world problems that require the tools of mathematics would also be interested in this minor. The minor will be of value to students in other fields and will be individualized to maximize exposure to skills useful to the individual in his or her chosen field of study.

Each student pursuing the physics minor will design a program of study with his or her advisor(s). Most students will choose to take Physics I, II and III. An independent research project is optional but encouraged.

The minor in physics is not available to physics majors.

The minor requires a minimum of 16 credit hours (four courses), at least four of which must be in experimental physics and eight in theoretical physics.

PHYS 121 Classical & Modern Physics I 5 credits
PHYS 122 Classical & Modern Physics II 5 credits
CHOOSE ONE COURSE (2-4 credits)
PHYS 231 Experimental Physics I 2 credits
PHYS 232 Experimental Physics II 2 credits
One PHYS course at any level - 4 credits

-OR-

PHYS 231 Experimental Physics I 2 credits
PHYS 232 Experimental Physics II 2 credits
One PHYS course at the 300-level or above (other than PHYS 461) - 4 credits
Two PHYS courses at any level - 8 credits

Total credit hours required for physics minor – 16 credits

Note: PHYS 101, 106, 107, 108, 109 and 461 do not apply toward minor.

Scholarships & Research Awards

To recognize superior work in physics, the department annually offers the E. Garness Purdom Scholarship to a rising senior physics major. The department also offers three awards to support student research — the Michael Jeglinski Physics Award, the Winslow Womack Research Award and the Adelberger Research Award. Physics majors are eligible for the annual Glaxo-Wellcome Women in Science Scholarship, awarded to an outstanding rising junior woman, and the E.G. Purdom Memorial Award for Women in Physical Science.

Physics at Guilford

Why Physics at Guilford?

“For all those considering physics, the best kept secret of Guilford’s Physics department is the profound relationship that develops between students and professors.”
- David Jackman ’09

Physics is the study of how nature works from the tiny parts that make up atoms to the largest structures in the universe. It forms the foundation of knowledge used in astronomy, computers, electronics, engineering, and has numerous applications in biology, chemistry, geology, and medicine. Physics also represents a way of solving problems that relies on clear, analytical, and often abstract thinking. This discipline is grounded in reality as demonstrated by experiment.

At Guilford, the physics program emphasizes active experimentation and student-driven research throughout its curriculum. The laboratory sequence stresses experimental techniques and collaborative research as well as communication skills. As students progress, they learn how to design their own experiments, write proposals, and present their work to fellow students in the department’s weekly department-wide seminar. Through this process, faculty work closely with students and help them develop necessary critical thinking and problem solving skills.

As a capstone experience, students create, design, and carry out their own original thesis projects. Students present their work both as a written paper and as a public talk and frequently also present their thesis at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) or other conferences. Graduate schools and employers are attracted by applicants who can work independently, effectively address and solve complicated problems, and communicate well with others. This thesis experience—unusual for undergraduate students—prepares our graduates for success in a wide range of fields and sets them apart from other applicants.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and have a broad spectrum of interests and career goals. The department maintains a strong alumni network that provides numerous employment opportunities; graduates come back every two years to share research and work experience and scout for potential colleagues among current Guilford physics students. Our graduates know how to think critically and solve complicated, long-term projects. You can find them obtaining advanced degrees in computer science, engineering, geography, mathematics, medical physics, medicine, and security studies. Other alumni are running software companies, doing research in academia and industry, teaching high school math and physics, or serving in AmeriCorps.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

“The lesson that continues to surprise me most of all is how to think about a problem. There is a fine line between considering too many elements of a problem and not considering enough.”
- Kif Rivera

Internships

Recent internship sites for Physics majors include:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.
  • College of Wooster
  • Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland
  • Max Planck Institute for Space Physics in Germany
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Trufina Corp.
  • PROMPT: Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and Polarimetry Telescopes” at UNC Chapel Hill
  • Various study abroad locations around the world

Research
The physics program at Guilford emphasizes research and experimentation throughout its curriculum. Students in introductory courses learn to work with equipment, quantify experimental uncertainties, and present results in journal format. The experimental physics sequence stresses laboratory techniques, cooperative research, and clear, thoughtful presentation of results. In this sequence of courses, students design experiments, act as principal investigators, write journal articles, and give talks for peer review.

This research experience culminates in a thesis research project that must be original and designed by the student. The results are presented in a written thesis and public talk. Students frequently present papers at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and other conferences. Each year the department grants the Jeglinski Physics Award, in memory of Boleslaw Jeglinksi and Michael Jeglinski, and the Helen and Winslow Womack Physics Research Award, to those students whose research projects were selected from all proposals submitted to the department. These awards may be used to help purchase equipment, fund a stipend, and support travel to a professional conference.

Students are also given the opportunity to present original research projects at Guilford’s Undergraduate Symposium.

Physics Faculty

CLINE OBSERVATORY

The J. Donald Cline Observatory houses over eight telescopes, including a 16-inch fully automated optical telescope and two ten-foot radio dishes that can work together to turn the whole campus into one big telescope. Students also have access to telescopes at the Three-College Observatory, roughly 30 miles away, and they can use telescopes all around the world over the Internet through Guilford’s partnership in SkyNet, a Chapel Hill-based collaboration.