Research is an important component of the physics curriculum at Dickinson College and all majors must undertake a year long senior research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The topics for these research projects are limited only by the interest and imagination of the students and faculty. Below is a listing of some broad research areas that are actively pursued at Dickinson.
The quantum optics lab Professor Hamilton-Drager in the observatory Sean Brannon '08 working in the plasma lab Scott Robison '04 in the patterns lab
Dickinson students have the opportunity to conduct independent research using the Britton Observatory's 24-inch telescope under the guidance of Professors Boyle (variable stars) and Hamilton-Drager (young star formation). Some recent projects include: searching for exo-solar planetary transits, and monitoring a possible supernova progenitor, v723 Cas.
Although retired from teaching, Professor Priscilla Laws continues to develop and assess curricular materials that engage introductory physics students in active learning. As part of the Activity-Based Physics group, she conducts professional development seminars for physics teachers nationally and internationally.
Professor English's research interests focus on the dynamics of nonlinear lattices and networks, including microscopic (magnetic crystals/spin lattices) and macroscopic (coupled pendulum arrays) systems. Recent work includes experiments with electrical lattices, and numerical modeling of learning in a neural network.
Ultrafast Laser Lab
Professor Pearson is constructing an ultrafast laser to measure, image, and control molecular systems, with a particular focus on applications of non-linear microscopy. Students have assisted with the design and construction of the laser system and experiments.
Professor Jackson maintains an active research program in pattern formation that revolves around the interfacial instabilities of a magnetic liquid (ferrofluid) in an applied magnetic field. Students can take part in experimental, theoretical, or computational aspects of this research.
Professor Emeritus Ken Laws continues his activities involving the physics of dance, working with students at all levels, including a PhD student in physics at Bryn Mawr College. His latest book is the second edition of "Physics and the Art of Dance," publisihed by Oxford University Press in 2008.
Professor Pfister maintains an active research program in plasma physics. His students are involved in examining the properties of a closed-drift Hall thruster.
Independent Student Projects
In addition to the main departmental research opportunities, many of our students get involved in research projects based on a particular interest or through a summer internship. Below is a sampling of some of the more successful independent research projects our students have been involved in.
Analysis of a deflating soap bubble (2007-08)
Synchronized chaos in electronic circuits (2004-05)
Construction of a Stirling engine (2004-05)