Courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy are designed to bring the student to an increasingly independent level of investigation in experimental and theoretical physics. Denison offers a variety of facilities and equipment for teaching and research in the physical sciences.
Course and laboratory work in astronomy explores the physical and observational background of such topics as the history of astronomy, naked eye observations, the planets and moons, the origin of the solar system, stellar classification, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, and cosmology, with an emphasis on the quantitative nature of modern astronomy.
Atomic/molecular/optical (AMO) Physics
Atomic/molecular/optical (AMO) physics research seeks to understand the structure of and interactions between atoms, molecules, and light. The implication of this work is both a better understanding of these elemental building blocks, as well as a range of applications in physics, engineering, and beyond. At Denison, active areas of research include negative ion spectroscopy, atomic collisions, atomic structure, laser cooling and trapping, quantum optics, and quantum information.
The field of astrophysics is broadly focused on the evolution and structure of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe. Observational, computational, and theoretical astrophysics employ a wide-variety of physics topics, such as atomic, nuclear, high-energy, and gravitation, as well as lend new insight to these fields. Areas of specialty at Denison include work on active galactic nuclei, the stellar life-cycle, galaxy clusters, and observational techniques.
Research in biomechanics analyzes the kinematics and dynamics of biological structures. Through a blend of mechanical modeling and experimental data acquisition, these efforts can yield insight across a diverse range of topics, from insect flight to athletics. Areas of inquiry at Denison include the physics of dance, a study which melds art and science.
Biomechanics faculty: Dr. Melanie Lott.
The burgeoning field of biophysics endeavors to derive and understand complex biological systems from the principles of physics, and is by definition highly interdisciplinary work with applications in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. Efforts may consist of computational modeling based on strict physical constraints, applying novel observational techniques to new systems, and quantitative analysis of biological processes. Particular topics of study at Denison include biocomplexity, motor proteins, and the physics of cellular functions.
Biophysics faculty: Dr. Riina Tehver.
Condensed Matter Physics
Condensed matter physics encompasses the properties of solids, crystals, semiconductors, polymers, superconductors, superfluids, and other novel materials. Research in condensed matter has far-reaching impact on the fabrication and utilization of tailored structures and materials. Areas of specialization at Denison include conductive polymers and soliton formation.
Condensed matter faculty: Dr. Kimberly Coplin.