Department of Physics
The Department of Physics is dedicated to teaching and scholarship, with an emphasis on achieving close student-faculty relationships. With a versatile degree program and interdisciplinary research, we prepare students for advanced study or employment in physics, biological physics, applied physics, and related fields.
The Department of Physics is dedicated to teaching and scholarship, with an emphasis on achieving close student-faculty relationships. Our goals are to provide a rigorous grounding in the scientific process and a firm scientific understanding of the world, to foster critical thinking and to provide scientifically literate, liberally educated citizens through service and liberal education courses. We provide undergraduate and graduate majors with solid preparation in the discipline for advanced study or employment. Our scholarship should be inclusive, bringing faculty, graduate students, and especially undergraduates into participation in the joy of learning at the frontiers of human intellectual endeavor.
The primary functional aspects of our mission can be classified as:
- Educating and preparing students in our undergraduate majors programs for advanced study and/or employment following their graduation from Miami University.
- Serving as a major contributor to the scientific and technological literacy of students through participation in the implementation of the Miami Plan.
- Providing the knowledge, laboratory experience, and training in analytical reasoning and critical thinking required as the basis for advanced study for students majoring in other fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.
- Developing the skills in basic physical science of present and future teachers in elementary and secondary schools, and providing opportunities for continuing education of the public of our region and nation.
- Extending the expertise and competence in physics of our graduate students to prepare them for advanced study in the physical sciences and/or engineering or for employment.
- Engaging in scholarly activity that will extend the base of human knowledge through research and enhance the educational aspects of the Department's mission.
Alumni Advisory Board
The Physics Alumni Advisory Board is a distinguished group of accomplished individuals who have graduated from our esteemed physics program. Through their involvement, the Physics Alumni Advisory Board significantly contributes to the continued success and growth of our physics department and empowers the next generation of physicists to excel in their careers.
Wesley A. Burgei, B.S. 2001, M.S. 2003
Wes attended Miami University from 1998 to 2003 earning a BS and MS degree in physics in 2001 and 2003, respectively. While an undergraduate he was an active researcher in Dr. Michael Pechan's laboratory publishing several papers and attending and presenting at the Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials. Wes received the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Award during the 2001-2002 school year. He continued working under Dr. Pechan as a graduate student publishing additional papers and completing a research thesis. As a graduate teaching assistant he received the American Association of Physics Teachers Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.
Wes currently works for the United States Department of Defense as a Physical Scientist assigned to the Marine Corps. He manages a portfolio of research and development projects aimed at developing physics-based computational models that can predict and characterize the probability of injury of a variety of intermediate force capabilities. This work includes better understanding the potential effects of emerging Directed Energy capabilities. Before joining the federal government as a civil servant in 2009, Wes worked as a Technology and Research Analyst for American Systems.
He currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two children.
Jeff Dulaney, B.S. 1981
Dr. Jeff Dulaney is President and CEO of LSP Technologies, Inc., a high tech firm in Dublin, Ohio, which uses high energy lasers to make the world a safer place. Dr. Dulaney has more than 20 years of experience in high energy laser development, particularly in system designs for laser peening, laser bond inspection, and laser land mine neutralization. Dr. Dulaney and LSP Technologies have produced a library of intellectual property, including more than 70 patents.
Dr. Dulaney founded LSP Technologies in 1995 to commercialize the innovative surface enhancement process known as laser peening, which inhibits the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks. Laser peening has been particularly effective in gas turbine engines for both aerospace and power generation. The future application potential is much broader, encompassing automotive parts, orthopedic implants, and tool and die manufacturing.
Prior to founding LSP Technologies, Dr. Dulaney worked at Battelle as part of the high energy laser group, designing and developing high energy pulsed laser systems for both government and industrial applications. His work has included programs related to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, which led to the development of the first prototype laser system for use on production laser peening applications.
Dr. Dulaney earned his Bachelor’s degree in physics from Miami University, which provided an excellent foundation for his graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh, from which he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1986. While at Miami, he did research in the atomic physics group headed by Dr. Bill Wells, at the same time Professor Emeritus, Dr. Doug Marcum, was working on his Ph.D. He currently resides in Delaware, Ohio, with his wife, Suzanne, also a Miami University alumna.
Sarah Hernandez, M.S. 2009
Sarah C. Hernandez earned her undergraduate BS degree at Texas Christian University in Physics and Astronomy and Mathematics. In 2009 she received her MS in Physics at Miami University. Her time at Miami University she worked with Dr. Mick Pechan on experimental studies of magnetic materials and presented at the Magnetism and Magnetic Materials and American Physical Society March Meeting conferences. She also received the Outstanding Graduate Research Award in 2009.
Afterwards, she attended the University of Texas at Arlington and was awarded with a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship and received her PhD in Physics in the spring of 2015. During her time as a graduate student, she became a Seaborg Institute Summer Research Fellow and interned at Los Alamos National Laboratory for two summers. Her dissertation work specialized in density functional theory studies of gallium alloyed delta-plutonium bulk and surfaces. Upon graduation she became a Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory from May 2015 to August 2017, and was converted to Research Scientist in the Nuclear Materials Group (MST-16) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has been studying plutonium science for approximately 8 years in both theoretical and experimental capacities. Due to her previous experimental experience at Miami University, she was given the opportunity at Los Alamos National Laboratory to learn Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. To date she has published nine first-author peer-reviewed papers associated with density functional theory calculations on plutonium materials, in which the calculations utilized various implementations of density functional theory through all-electron and pseudopotential codes, such as WIEN2K and VASP. Sarah has presented her work internationally and has received multiple recognitions for her work by being awarded with Los Alamos National Laboratory Outstanding Presentation Award for Postdoc Research Day in 2015 and the ANS Pu Futures Student Poster Award in 2014. In addition, her work has been selected to be featured as a front cover image for the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter volume 26 2014 issue.
She currently lives in Los Alamos, New Mexico with her husband Samir, and two kids, Celeste and Maximus.
Jay Kumler B.S. 1986
Jay Kumler is President of Jenoptik Optical Systems, the US optics operations of Jenoptik AG. In this role, Jay is responsible for manufacturing facilities in Jupiter, Florida, Huntsville, Alabama and Jenoptik’s Silicon Valley Application Center in Fremont, California.
Jenoptik AG is a globally operating integrated photonics group with 4,000 employees present in more than 80 countries with customers in the semiconductor equipment, automotive, medical, defense and entertainment industry.
Prior to Jenoptik, Kumler founded Coastal Optical Systems which he lead for 10 years and sold to Jenoptik AG. Before Coastal, Kumler designed optical systems for United Technologies Optical Systems and Bell Laboratories. With over 30 years of optical design and engineering experience, Kumler is a published author, and has a number of technical publications and patents.
He is an advisor and founding sponsor of the annual SPIE Startup Challenge pitch competition in San Francisco. Jay serves on the Board of Advisors on the Luminate Accelerator in Rochester, NY. He is an SPIE Fellow and served on the SPIE board of directors from 2010-2012. Kumler is also past president of the American Precision Optics Manufacturing Association (APOMA). Jay earned a B.S. Physics from Miami University (1986) and a M.S. Optics from the University of Rochester Institute Of Optics (1987).
Scott Secrest, M.S. 1998
Scott Secrest attended Miami University from 1995 to 1998 and graduated with a B.S. degree in physics and minors in mathematics and French. While at Miami, Scott was involved with research, starting by working in the lab of Dr. Mick Pechan before switching to do research in theoretical quantum optics with Dr. Perry Rice. Scott was involved with the Miami Chapter of the Society of Physics Students as well as the Miami University Astronomy Club. After graduating from Miami, Scott attended the University of Arizona for graduate studies in physics. After spending the first year doing theoretical research with Dr. Pierre Meystre on Bose-Einstein condensates, Scott realized that his passion was for teaching physics more than doing research and decided to look into teaching physics at the high school level. He worked with Dr. Ingrid Novodvorski whose area was Physics Education Research and decided to work on redeveloping the introductory physics labs in Electricity and Magnetism as part of his Master’s thesis (taking inspiration from the revisions that happened with Mike Brown and Dr. Glenn Julian while he was a student at Miami).
Scott has been teaching Honors Physics, AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism at St. Francis de Sales School in Toledo, Ohio since 2000 and has been the Science Department Chair since 2005. He enjoys helping promote the interest of high school students in studying physics and engineering at college. He is also moderator of the robotics club and teaches a LEGO Robotics Camp for middle school students in the summer. In class, Scott tries to spend time teaching about solar energy, received a $10,000 grant from BP to support this, and received the Eco-Educator Award through Lourdes University in 2013. Scott also enjoys taking students on summer service trips and has led groups to Lincoln County, West Virginia each summer since 2002 to work with the kids in that community.
Alumni Updates (by submission date)
Fall 2019 - Sarah Hernandez (M.S. ’09) last fall travelled to Oxford to take her seat at the Miami Physics Alumni Advisory Board. She is a Research Scientist in the Nuclear Materials Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sarah brought her husband Samir and her two kids, Celeste and Maximus, with her for a mini vacation when she traveled to Oxford for the board meeting last October.
Fall 2019 - Nada Masmali (M.S. ’15) did her M.S. thesis work under the direction of Khalid Eid and then went back to Saudi Arabia to teach. Recently, she was admitted into the physics PhD program at the University of Malaya, and she now lives in Kuala Lumpur in pursuit of her advanced degree.
Fall 2019 - David Eicher (’83), former Miami Physics major and now editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine, just published a 3D book of the space race from Sputnik to Tranquility Base. He co-wrote the book with famed astrophysicist Brian May, who may be better known as the Queen guitarist.
Fall 2019 - Andrew Stollenwerk (B.S. Physics & B.A. Math ’02) recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary at the University of Northern Iowa, where he is an Associate Professor of Physics. Among others, he teaches introductory quantum mechanics, and mathematical methods for physicists. His research focus is the physics of surfaces and low dimensional material system.s..
Fall 2019 - Diane Beamer (M.S. ’13) finished her Ph.D. in Electro Optics from the University of Dayton last August and since then started a career with L3 Space & Sensors, where she looks at the future of infra-red detection technologies.
Fall 2019 - Alison Huff (M.S. ’12) recently was promoted to Professor of Physics at Merced Community College District.
2018 - Bob Peirce (Miami ’47) wrote to tell us how he got into physics. Back in the days, he had disagreements over a number of matters with his high school physics teacher. Ray Lee Edwards, the Physics Chair at the time settled the argument in Bob’s favor and invited Bob to attend Miami with an assistantship. After Miami, Bob went on to the University of Illinois, eventually earned an MBA from Harvard, and served as VP for Admission at Florida State University. He does have very fond memories of Dr. Edwards, Dr. Wm. Anderson from the Math Department, and others at Miami. He signs off with “Miami is a beautiful school in every sense of the word.”
Fall 2017 - Susan (Spagno) Ramlo (M.S. '86) was awarded the Best Professional Paper award from the Eastern Educational Research Association in February 2016 followed by the Distinguished Paper Award from the Consortium of State and Regional Educational Research Associations (SRERA) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in May 2017 for her paper Student Views Regarding Offering a Physics Course Online. Dr. Ramlo is a Professor of General Technology-Physics and Professor of Physics at the University of Akron.
Fall 2017 - Ryan Perhala (B.S. Physics '09) visited campus on October 26 and 27 as an honoree of the 2017 Class of 18 of the Last 9, the annual program sponsored by the Miami University Alumni Association and based on the popular “30 under 30” model. Miami's program recognizes 18 Miami alumni who have graduated in the past nine years. Captain Perhala is an instructor pilot at the United States Air Force Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada, where he teaches graduate-level academics and leads combat training missions that provide the world’s most advanced training in weapons and tactics employment. Ryan spent two days in Oxford meeting with students, touring the remains of Culler Hall (now ab.s.orbed by Arm.s.trong Student Center) and visiting Kreger Hall.
Summer 2017 - Tim Burt ‘92 visited the department after he and his family traveled to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to view the total eclipse. When news media found out he was a physicist, he gave no less than six different interviews. Now a Senior Staff Scientist at Harris Corporation, Dr. Burt made it onto FOX News, although they only used his picture...looking up. In his words, "So much for my 15 minutes of fame."
Three days later, alumnus Bradley D Paul '91 and his family stopped by the department for a visit. They were returning from their Eclipse trip to Wyoming. Brad works at Harris Corporation with Tim Burt.
Spring 2017 - Mark Schober (M.S. & MAT ‘96) received the 2017 Paul W. Zitzewitz Excellence in K-12 Teaching Award at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Cincinnati. Mark is science teacher and department head at Trinity School in New York City. The award was established in 1993 and recognizes outstanding achievements in pre-college physics teaching. He teaches physics, engineering, and astronomy, and advises a variety of student groups. At Trinity, he uses Modeling Instruction to allow students to use the tools and techniques of science to learn essential science content, and he employs standards-based grading to foster growth mindsets in his students. In addition to this presentation of the Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in K-12 Teaching, Schober's teaching has been recognized with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (2007) and the Gene Fuchs Award from the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers (2009).
Spring 2017 - Dr. Calford Otieno (M.S. ’11) graduated with a Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton. His dissertation was on Nonlinear Optical Properties of Aluminum-Doped Zinc Oxide. He returned to Kenya where he hopes to secure a faculty position.
Spring 2017 - Jeff Hyde (B.S. ’07, M.S. ’09) will be starting as a professor in Baltimore after receiving his Ph.D. from Arizona State.
Spring 2017 - Charlie Baldwin (M.S. ’11) finished his Ph.D. at University of New Mexico and is doing a postdoc at Los Alamos.
Fall 2016 - Jeremy Hohertz (M.S. ‘08), having received his Ph.D. at Wake Forest, is now teaching at Elon University in North Carolina.
Fall 2016 - Dr. Robert Lutwak (B.S. Physics, 1987) was recently elevated to Fellow of the IEEE “...for technical leadership in research, development, and commercialization of miniature atomic frequency standards and clocks."
Fall 2016 - The Department of Physics welcomed back Matt Dopkiss '07, B.S. Engineering Physics, Managing Partner of Dynamit Technologies LLC, as part of the 2016 honorees for 18 of the Last 9, the annual program sponsored by the Miami University Alumni Association and based on the popular “30 under 30” model. Miami's program recognizes 18 Miami alumni who have graduated in the past nine years. This year’s inductees were selected from more than 100 nominees. Matt's agenda included lunch with the Society of Physics Students and a meeting with the Astronomy Club.
Summer 2016 - Alex Brest (B.S. ’14) is living in Madison, WI and works at Epic System.s.. Epic develops healthcare software and Alex supports their ambulatory application. He is currently putting together his application for medical school to enter in the Fall of 2017.
Spring 2016 - Todd Van Woerkom, B.A. '08, M.S. '10, is pursuing a Ph.D. in applied physics through the Air Force Institute of Technology.
Spring 2016 - Jeffrey Hyde (B.S. ’07, M.S. ’09) is finishing his Ph.D. at Arizona State University and recently published a paper in Physical Review D on the “Sensitivity of Gravitational Waves from Preheating to a Scalar Field's Interactions.”
Spring 2016 - Robert Tolley (B.A. ’10, M.S.’12), now at UC San Diego, Center for Memory and Recording Research - CMRR, and colleague Alex Phan (CMRR) were the poster winners for the CMRR Spring Research Review (April 2015). Robert is a Ph.D. student working under the supervision of Professor Eric Fullerton. His poster was titled “Enhanced Kerr Microscopy System.s. at the Center for Magnetic Recording Research.”
Feb 2016 - Diane Beamer, M.S. '13, was on campus recently at Miami's Spring Ice Career Fair, recruiting candidates for Applied Optimization, a company in Dayton Ohio, looking for Applied Math and Computer Science majors, or any engineering, with mechanical as the nominal degree. Diane is pursuing a PhD in Electro-Optics at the University of Dayton, finishing up the last class and working on a research proposal right now.
Nov 2015 - Thomas Jenkins, M.S. '13, is employed as an engineer for the photonics/nucleonics department at the Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory, Heath, Ohio.
Oct 2015 - Keith Rielage, B.S. Physics ’92, PhD Physics (Washington University St. Louis) is now the Team Leader of the Weak Interactions/Astrophysics team of the Physics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Keith has worked on several neutrino experiments including serving as the analysis coordinator for the third phase of the Sudbury Neutrino Ob.s.ervatory (SNO) from 2005 to 2008. That analysis independently verified the previous SNO measurements showing that solar neutrinos oscillate. The measurements from SNO led to its director, Dr. Arthur McDonald, being awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Keith is currently working on neutrino experiments that utilize liquid argon detectors at Fermilab and the Majorana Demonstrator experiment searching for neutrinoless double beta decay in South Dakota.
Sept 2015 - Adam Hicks, M.S. '09, is heading the metals additive research at the University of Dayton Research Institute.
Sept 2015 - Ethan Karp, B.S. Physics/Biochemistry 2006, and Neil Schick, B.S./B.A. Physics, Zoology, Education, were recognized by the Miami Alumni Association in the 18 of the last 9 - 2015 honorees. Based on the popular "30 under 30" model, the program honors your alumni who are living the values inherent in a Miami education.
April 2015 - Dave Rench McCauley, B.S. Physics 2007, Ph.D. Physics 2013 (Penn State), is currently working in a less common field for physicists: public policy. Dave is a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the Department of Energy, working in the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SunShot Initiative). Dave uses his experience in semiconductor materials physics to help manage technology programs in solar photovoltaics, while also aiding in the development of solar workforce initiatives and professional development opportunities for scientists. In his current role, he is able to explore his interests in applied science and engineering of materials while also developing his passions with regards to helping the scientific workforce achieve its full potential. Dave is happy to discuss his current work with any Miami Physics students that are intrigued by this career path.
April 2015 - Rebecca Farr '80, Engineering SE&I Division at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center writes, "I will be presenting the following paper at AIAA Aeroacoustics meeting in Dallas in June this year, On the Comparison of the Long Penetration Mode (LPM) Supersonic Counterflowing Jet to the Supersonic Screech Jet. Also we received USPTO notification that our second patent No. 9,016,632 will be issued on 4-28-2015: METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR WEAKENING SHOCK WAVE STRENGTH AT LEADING EDGE SURFACES OF VEHICLE IN SUPERSONIC ATMOSPHERIC FLIGHT.
Oct 2014 - Tony Carstens, B.S. Engr Physics 1993, B.S. MME 1994, is the owner of Fischer-Backus in Columbus, Ohio, a manufacturer of cable and wire harness assemblies. Tony writes that Fischer-Backus was recently recognized for their work supplying cable assemblies to the CERN project. The CM.S. Industry Awards are granted to companies who demonstrated their excellence and engagement as well as provide parts or services within specifications. Announced at CERN on October 13, 2014, Fischer-Backus received the CM.S. Gold Award. "We collaborated with Wayne State University, Northeastern University, University of Wisconsin Madison, and CERN personnel from around the world to complete the ME4/2 muon chambers of the CM.S. detector at CERN. We are extremely proud that we were selected to work on the project and help complete something that will possibly change the world and how we view it."
July 2012 - Dave Bonner (B.S. 2002, MAT 2003) who was selected one of 97 teachers nationwide to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. He traveled to Washington, D.C. this summer to meet President Obama and accept his award. The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding kindergarten to 12th grade science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.
June 2012 - Hope Spangler Strickland (MAT 1993) was selected as Dayton Public Schools' 2012 Teacher of the Year. A teacher at Stiver School for the Arts, Mrs. Strickland serves as coordinator for the Physics Department's annual Stiver School visit, which brings 40-50 students to campus for a day of physics.
In hind sight, I believe the graduate program at Miami really affords everyone the opportunity to get out of it what you put in to it. I was able to develop my problem solving skills and computer programming skills while doing really cool research in a subject I have great passion for! I am really grateful for the opportunity to have had the experience I did. Although my plans shifted during my time at Miami, I came out of the program with several awards, a few publications, a fantastic and exciting job opportunity and a prestigious degree.
Matt Walentosky, M.S. 2016, Data Scientist at B/Search, A Brunnerworks Co.
I really enjoyed the time I spent as a student in Miami University's graduate physics program. The coursework, teaching, and research opportunities all helped me build a solid foundation in math and science. The staff was great, and the professors were always there to help me out when I needed it.
Thomas Jenkins, M.S. 2013, engineer for the Photonics/Nucleonics Department at the Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory
What I liked best about physics at Miami is how invested all of the staff are in their students. My instructors were very helpful in and out of class, and it made a big difference.
Ryan Nowak, B.S. Engineering Physics, 2007, Software developer at Microsoft
My memories of the Physics Department at Miami are some of my favorite. Though the coursework was a challenge and there were many restless nights thinking about a problem or working on a laboratory report, I couldn't have made a better decision to study physics. The professors were always willing to answer questions and help you to really understand the material. Keep in mind, there are many, many jobs you can do and research avenues you can pursue with a physics degree.
Megan Lobaugh, B.A. Physics 2006, Internal Dosimetrist in the Environment, Safety and Health Directorate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Although I chose not to pursue a career in physics, I can definitely say that the rigorous, analytical way of thinking I learned in Miami's Physics Department proved invaluable to me in law school, and I'm sure it will prove equally invaluable in my future life as a lawyer.
Charlie LaPlante, B.S. Physics 2005
Miami's physics department was great for providing a student-friendly environment. I never felt afraid to ask a question when I did not understand something, and the professors always made me feel like my opinions of the department mattered.
Jeremy Clark, B.S. Physics 2006, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Being a part of the Miami Physics Department was an unforgettable experience! I really felt that the faculty cared about our success as students, and the friendships I made with my classmates will last a lifetime. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to laugh and learn with!
Erica Blasdel, B.S. Physics 2005, Librarian in the Science, Business, and News division of the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I don't think a faculty exists that values the education and experience of their undergraduate students more than the Physics Department at Miami University.
Jonathan Dudley, B.S. Engineering Physics 2007
The Miami University Physics Department provides tremendous support to its undergraduates through teaching, advising, and research opportunities. All of the professors are approachable and are passionate about physics.
Eric Frey, B.S. Physics 2008, Investment Advisor with Citigroup
The Miami physics department created a smaller community within the larger university setting that supplied a much more personal college experience; providing more opportunities and more one-on-one interactions with both the faculty and students alike, several with whom I have kept in touch with over the years.
Katie (Rowley) Grant, B.S. 2000, Siemens
The Physics MS program at Miami did a fantastic job preparing me for a career as a scientist, both as a teacher and as a researcher. As an undergrad I never would have guessed I would have ended up in this area of research, but Miami provided me an excellent introduction to the world of nanoscience.
Nick Geitner, M.S. 2011, Ph.D. Clemson University
I have no doubt that my experiences in the Miami University physics department were integral to my physics career. The opportunities for research and teaching shaped my choice to work in academia and heavily influenced my current research program. However, most important to me was the sense of compassion and collegiality in the department: I saw firsthand what it means to be a professor who truly cares about students and their success, and I strive to meet those standards every time I set foot in my classroom.
Dyan Jones, M.S. Physics 2005, Assistant Professor Mercyhurst College
I was proud to call the Physics Department my home - an oasis in the broader community of business and education students. What impressed me most was the passion of the faculty. They taught by example and lead by enthusiasm--faculty like Dr. Joe Priest who took a snapshot of the incoming freshman class each holding up a sign with our name. He promised by the next morning he'd have all of our names memorized and if he didn't, that student would receive an A for the class. Needless to say, the only "As" awarded that year were earned through hard work, not by a failure on the part of Dr. Priest.
J. Scott Sykora, B.S. Engineering Physics 1979, president of LJM Partners, a commodities trading company
Miami Physics has its origins in the departments of natural philosophy (1832-45) and natural science (1845-73). The Physics and Chemistry Department was formed in 1885 under the leadership of Henry Snyder, and from 1898 to 1902, Raymond Hughes led the department, after which he went on to become Miami’s 15th president and Iowa State University’s 8th president. In 1903, the Physics Department was formed with Joseph Culler as chairman and the only full-time faculty member.
In 1926, Ray L. Edwards was named chair of physics, a position he held until 1956. During his 30-year tenure, the department grew with the addition of professors Dave Griffing, John Snider, George Arfken, Phil Macklin, Don Kelly, Joe Priest, Jim Poth, and Glenn Julian. Our Master’s program preceded the establishment of Miami’s Society of Physics Students Chapter in 1932, with several physics graduate students among the inaugural inductees.
During Dr. Edwards tenure, the department was located in Hughes Hall (which was renamed Kreger Hall in 1968). In 1961, Culler Hall was built specifically for the Physics Department, although it shared some of the space with Math, and later, Aeronautics. In 2014, the department moved back to a totally renovated Kreger Hall, complete with state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities, and common spaces for study and collaboration.
Miami Physics has a history of excellence in teaching, scholarship and leadership in physics education. In 1945, the prestigious Oersted Medal was awarded to Ray Edwards for notable contributions to the teaching of physics. Our faculty have published numerous texts, including Arfken’s world-renowned “Mathematical Methods for Physicists”; Priest’s “Energy: Principles, Problems and Alternatives”; Griffing’s “The Dynamics of Sports”; Kelly’s “Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics”; Arfken, Griffing, Kelly and Priest’s “University Physics”; and Paul DeVries’ “A First Course in Computational Physics”. The late Jim Poth and Beverley Taylor have been leaders at the state and national levels in physics education. Taylor was named both an APS Fellow and an AAPT Fellow in recognition of her contributions in that area.
Russell Starkey, B.S. Physics 1964
(taken from an interview in April 2011)
"First and foremost, I should say, in my day we called the general education requirements the 'Common Curriculum.' That is the liberal-based part of our education that we all had to have. I hated it. I wanted to take math and physics courses. I mean, after all, that's why I was here. And I kept thinking, why in the world am I being required to take all this other stuff, if you will? Well, I did, and for the most part I enjoyed it, but I would have done something else given the opportunity."
"But as I aged and got into the workforce, even in the military service, I began to recognize that you know what? This was pretty good stuff. It broadened my perspective. It gave me different ways to view things. Every issue, problem, what have you, you can look at from a variety of directions. The more directions from which you can look at it, the better you can empathize and sympathize, the better problem solution you'll get to."
"Here's what you need to think about. You'll get a good, solid liberal-based education. You'll get the major that you want. But most importantly, you'll be at the #2 teaching university for undergraduates in the country. You need to think about that very seriously. If you want a good, solid undergraduate education, you go to a university where that's their forte."
(Mr. Starkey received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Miami in 1964, which he attended on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard nuclear submarines and attained the rank of Lt. Commander. Mr. Starkey's career in the civilian nuclear power industry spanned 35 years. He recently retired as VP for USEC, Inc., a global energy company. He recently made a $150,000 gift, creating two scholarships that will support Miami students for years to come.)
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