The study of physics is for individuals who are curious about how and why things work. One of the hallmarks of our department is close student-faculty interaction through small classroom settings and hands-on collaborative research. We strive to provide all our physics majors with the skills necessary to pursue graduate studies or professional careers in research and development through an inspiring mix of classes and research opportunities. As a progressive department, we are dedicated to teaching physics to all students through student-centered and guided discovery-based learning approaches, rather than the traditional lecture format. We are committed to helping science and non-science majors develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities so they can make informed decisions regarding matters of science and technology.
Lewis Hall of Science, 3rd floor
Dr. Vasilis Pagonis
Majors & Courses
The requirements for a major in Physics include several core physics courses commensurate with a B.A. degree covering areas such as classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, modern physics, quantum mechanics, and mathematical physics. Students also take optional courses in astrophysics, optics and lasers, thermodynamics, and computer modeling, to name a few.
Professor and Department Chair Vasilis Pagonis
(Ph.D., Northeastern University), is the inaugural recipient of the John Desmond Kopp Professorship in the Sciences. He frequently collaborates with students on research in his areas of interest, including solid state physics, and specifically in thermally and optically stimulated luminescence (TL and OSL). This is an area of research with direct applications in archaeological and geological dating, and also in radiation dosimetry. He teaches courses in quantum mechanics, analog and digital electronics and mathematical physics. Dr. Pagonis’ resume lists more than 80 refereed publications in international journals. He has been the recipient of several grants, including awards from the Council on Undergraduate Research and National Science Foundation. He is the co-author of two books in the field of luminescence dosimetry, “Practical and Numerical Exercises in Thermoluminescence,” published by Springer in 2006, and “Thermally and Optically Stimulated Luminescence: A Simulation Approach,” published by Wiley in 2011. Go to Dr. Pagonis’ personal webpage.
Associate Professor Apollo Mian
(Ph.D., Oklahoma State University), created with colleagues Dr. Marx and Dr. Pagonis the highly successful general science course, “A World of Light and Color,” in which non-science students engage in simple activities designed to help them understand basic light phenomena and learn how to think like scientists rather than simply learn about science. Dr. Mian’s other research interests include nonlinear optics, the physics of semiconducting polymers for display applications, Brillouin scattering, and solid state physics.
Associate Professor Jeff Marx
(Ph.D., Rensselaer University), is the recipient of a $170,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a novel science course for non-science majors on “The Nature of Science,” which dovetails with his student-centered interests in developing curricular materials to minimize these student difficulties in learning physics and working with students to help them conceive, design and analyze their own physics projects such as the physics of various sports. These student-generated projects have include construction of a ping-pong ball canon, and computer simulations of the gravitational interactions of a pair of Jupiter's moons.
The Physics Department currently has about 30 physics majors and, on average, graduates about 4-8 students per year. The advanced physics classes generally have between 5-10 students while the general physics classes are restricted to 25 students. The small class sizes allow students and faculty to develop closer relationships in class that is conducive to better learning.
In 1994, the American Institute of Physics granted the establishment of a chapter of The Society of Physics Students (SPS) at McDaniel College. Sigma Pi Sigma recognizes outstanding scholarship in Physics and serves to promote the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship. Undergraduate candidates must have a weighted average GPA of 3.5 in the Physics major and overall. In addition, students must write an honors thesis in Physics.
During Spring 2013, four new members were inducted in the Physics Honors Society (Sigma-Pi-Sigma) at McDaniel College. The four new members shown here are David Ruth, Huy Phan, Gina Mayonado, and Leigh Blohm (pictured below).
Some of the current SPS activities include:
- Physics is fun day at Hershey Park- An annual Tradition!
- SPS visit to the research labs at the University of Maryland
- Designing and printing the COOLEST T-shirts on campus!
- Physics is Phun Day with the University of Maryland
- SPS meeting of all chapters in the Maryland area
- Local high school outreach programs
- Invited speakers in physics and astronomy
- End of the semester pizza and bowling party!
The following are papers co-authored by physics students and faculty at McDaniel College. The students' names are underlined.
- V. Pagonis, L. Blohm, M. Brengle, G. Mayonado and P. Woglam, Anomalous heating rate effect in thermoluminescence intensity using a simplified semilocalized transition (SLT) model. Radiation Measurements, In Press., (2013).
- V. Pagonis, R. Chen,J. Maddrey, B. Sapp. Simulations of time-resolved photoluminescence experiments in a-Al2O3:C. Journal of Luminescence 131 (2011) 1086–1094
- V.Pagonis, A. Baker, M. Larsen, Z. Thompson. Precision and accuracy of two luminescence dating techniques for retrospective dosimetry: SAR-OSL and SAR-ITL. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 269 (2011) 653–663
- V. Pagonis, S. Mian, R. Mellinger, K. Chapman. Thermoluminescence kinetic study of binary lead-silicate glasses. Journal of Luminescence 129 (2009) 570–577
- V Pagonis, S M Mian, M L Chithambo, E Christensen and C Barnold. Experimental and modelling study of pulsed optically stimulated luminescence in quartz, marble and beta irradiated salt. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 42 (2009)
- V. Pagonis, E. Balsamo, C. Barnold, K. Duling, S. McCole. Simulations of the predose technique for retrospective dosimetry and authenticity testing. Radiation Measurements 43 (2008) 1343–1353
- C. Soares, C. Drupieski, B.Wingert, G. Pritchett, V. Pagonis, M. O’Brien, A. Sliski, P.Bilski and P. Olko, Absorbed dose measurements of a handheld 50 kVp X-ray source in water with Thermoluminesccence dosemeters, Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2006), Vol. 120, No. 1–4, pp. 78–82.
- V. Pagonis and H. Carty, "Simulation of the experimental pre-dose technique for retrospective dosimetry in quartz" Radiation Protection Dosimetry 109, (2004) p. 225-234.
- G. Kitis, V. Pagonis, H. Carty, and E. Tatsis, "Detailed kinetic study of the thermoluminescence glow-curve of synthetic quartz", Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 100, pp.225-228 (2002).
- V. Pagonis, E. Tatsis, G. Kitis, and C. Drupieski, "Search for common characteristics in the glow-curves of quartz of various origins", Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 100 , 373-376 (2002).
- V. Pagonis and C. Shannon, "An improved experimental procedure of separating a composite thermoluminescence glow curve into its components", Radiation Measurements, 32, 805-812 (2000).
- V. Pagonis, R. Drake, M. A. Morgan, T. Peters, C. Riddle, and K. Rollins, "Modeling forces on the human body", Physics Teacher, 37, 469-474 (1999).
- D. Guerra, M. A. Morgan, and D. B. Coyle, "An introduction to laser modeling studies with a nitrogem-pumped dye laser", American Journal of Physics, 67, 803-809 (1999).
- V. Pagonis, D. Guerra, S. Chauduri, B. Hornbecker, and N. Smith, "Effects of air resistance", Physics Teacher, 35, 364-368 (1997).
- V. Pagonis, E. Allman, and A. Wooten, "Thermoluminescence from a distribution of trapping levels in uv irradiated calcite", Radiation Measurements, 26, 265-280 (1996).
During the summer of 2012, two physics majors Gina Mayonado and Leigh Blohm (pictured below) worked under Dr. Pagonis' supervision in the luminescence laboratory at McDaniel College. They studied the optical properties of Durango apatite, a natural crystal with important applications in luminescence dosimetry and luminescence dating. Gina and Leigh used several Ocean Optics spectrometers and a variety of light sources (high power LEDs, a blue laser, tungsten lamps), to study the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) properties of these crystals. They presented this research at the Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Cornell University, on January 18, 2013.
- Leigh Blohm and Gina Mayonado, "Luminescence studies of fluoroapatite crystals” Presented at Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Cornell University, 2013.
- Stefanie M. McCole, Costas Efthimiou, Dan Maronde, Tim McGreevy, and Enrique del Barco, "Implementing Real Time Physics at the University of Central Florida". Presented at the National AAPT Winter Meeting at Chicago, Illinois,2009.
- C. J. Todd, R. T. May, S. M. Mian, and E. Van Keuran, "Thermooptic properties of polymer thin films using the Z-scan technique". Annual Meeting of the Optical Society of America, Orlando, FL, 2002.
- A. M. Austin, K. P. Hildebrand, S. M. Mian, A. Y. Hamad, and J. P . Wicksted, "Self-lensing effects in Eu-doped silicate glasses under resonant excitation". Annual Meeting of the Optical Society of America, Long Beach, CA, 2001.
- S. M. Mian and M. A. Morgan II, "Characteristics of thermal lensing Z-scans with large nonlinearity". Annual Meeting of the Optical Society of America , Providence. RI, 2000.
- M. A. Morgan, V. Pagonis, S. M. Mian, J. G. Smith, and T. N. Good, "Computational and Experimental Studies of Thermal Lensing Z-scan Experiments". Annual Meeting of The American Physical Society, Minneapolis, MN, 2000.
- V. Pagonis and C. Shannon, "An improved experimental procedure of separating a composite thermoluminescence glow curve into its components". Thermoluminescence Conference, Rome, Italy, 1999.
Here is what some of the physics alumni did after graduation:
- 2010/Andrea Mills/Software development, private sector/Maryland
- 2010/John Sullivan/Graduate School,Physics/Univ. MD (UMBC)
- 2010/Dan Jones/Graduate School,Physics/Univ. MD (UMBC)
- 2009/Stephanie McCole/Graduate School, Physics Education Research/USF, Florida
- 2009/Christina Barnold/Graduate School, Physics/ Catholic University, Washington DC
- 2009/Kirsten Duling/Government Employment/Alberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland
- 2009/Erin Balsamo/Graduate School,Physics/Univ. MD (UMBC)
- 2008/Ryan Mellinger/Private Employment/Georgia
- 2008/Kevin Gill/Private Employment/Maryland
- 2007/Keith Greenway//Private Employment/Maryland
- 2007/Jon Orr/ Home construction business owner
- 2007/Nick Mancuso/Private Employment/Maryland
- 2007/Jim Petrillo/Private Employment/Maryland
- 2007/Frank Ingellis/Private Employment/Maryland
- 2007/Rob Jones/Legg Mason/Maryland
- 2007/Kate Chapman/Private Employment/Maryland
- 2006/ David Long/ Engineering Employment/Maryland
- 2006/ Laura Baggaley/ Graduate School, Medical Physics/Univ. of Kentucky
- 2006/ Megan Mattson/ High School Teaching/ Maryland
- 2006/ Matt Polhaus/ Private Employment/ Maryland
- 2006/ Danielle Keresztenyi/ Civil Enbgineering Employment/ Maryland
- 2006/ Rebecca Ward/ High School Teaching/ Tennessee
- 2006/ Tyler Drake/ Graduate School, Medical Physics/ Duke University
- 2005/ Chris Todd / Graduate School, Optics / University of Rochester
- 2005/ Randy May / Graduate School, Acoustics / Pennsylvania State University
- 2005 / Jodi Foss / Law School / Virginia Beach
- 2005/ Joe Geiman / Graduate School, Oceanic Studies / University of Delaware
- 2005/ Bill Knouse / Graduate School, Physics / Georgia Tech
- 2005/ Matt Polhaus / Private Employment
- 2005/ Matt Blumenthal / Private Employment
- 2005/ Natasha Borjemskaia / Graduate School, Optics/ Georgetown University
- 2004/Ted Stephen/High School Teacher/Catonsville,MD
- 2004/Brian Wingert/Graduate School Astronomy/Univ. Maryland, Baltimore Cty
- 2004/Chris Drupieski/Graduate School Mathematics/Univ. of Virginia
- 2004/Jason Cashen/Private Industry, Employment/Westminster, MD
- 2004/James Lipchock/Yale University/New Haven, CT
- 2004/Garey Pritchard/National Institute of Technology/Gaithersburg, MD
- 2003 / Justin Prazner / Graduate Engineering School / Univ. of Maryland, College Park
- 2003 / Hezekiah Carty / Teledyne Corp. / Maryland
- 2003 / Kyle Hildebrand / Graduate Education / McDaniel College
- 2003 / Scott Zentz / NASA Langley / Virginia
- 2003 / Dan Philips / Private Employment / Maryland
- 2002 / Adam Austin / High School Teaching / Frederick,MD
- 2002 / Mark Pry / Accounting Co / Vienna,Va
- 2002 / Lenn Bernard / Private Employment / Maryland
- 2002 / Jeremy Keil / Private Employment / Libertarian Party
- 2002 / Brian Jones/ Private Employment / Maryland
- 2002 / Kelly Ward / Private Employment / Frederick,MD
- 2002 / Misty LaVigne / Graduate school-Astronomy / Univ. of Maryland-College Park
- 2001 / Kang-Yi Tan / Graduate school / Texas University
- 2001 / Michael Wolfe / Private Employment / Lockheed
- 2001 / Aaron Bartolain / Employment-Exercise Science / McDaniel College
- 2001 /Jeff Groff / Graduate school-Physics / College of William and Mary
- 2000 / Mike Morgan / Software Company / McLain - Virginia
- 2000 / Colleen Shannon/ Graduate School / Mechanical Engineering / Virginia Tech
- 2000 / John Seiders / Graduate School / Chemistry / University of Pittsburgh
- 1998 / Sean Chauduri / Software Company / Bombay - India
- 1998 / Chris Kulp / Graduate School / Physics / College of William and Mary
- 1998 / Nathan Smith / Teacher / Carroll County, Maryland
- 1997 / Albert Wooten / Graduate School / Physics / University of Maryland
- 1997 / Mark Newman / Christian Fellowship Mission / Poland
- 1996 / Melanie Phipps / Graduate School / Environmental Resources / Univ. of Maryland
- 1996 / Tony Becker / 3-2 Engineering / University of Maryland
- 1995 / Eric Allman / Graduate School / Physics / College of William and Mary
- 1995 / Asanga Costa / 3-2 Engineering Program / University of Arkansas
- 1994 / Sin Wu / Graduate School / Engineering Management / Purdue University
- 1994 / Tony Cleveland / Computer Software / Washington, DC
- 1993 / Min Tan / Graduate School / Computer Science / Purdue University
- 1993 / Fei Zhou / Engineering / Rennsellaer Institute of Technology
- 1992 / Denise Vause / Technical Personnel / Johns Hopkins University
- 1992 / Richard Rippeon / Engineering Company / Baltimore, Maryland
- 1992 / Christine Piper / Graduate School / Chemical Physics / University of Pennsylvania
- 1991 / Andy Brown / Technical Personnel / Washington, DC
- 1991 / Allison Coffey / Graduate School / Education / University of Maryland
- 1990 / Scott Aaron / Graduate School / Astrophysics / Brandeis University
- 1990 / Jon Marsh / Graduate School / Physics / Washington University
- 1990 / Debbie Camara / Computer Software / Washington, DC
- 1990 / Michael Kunzer / Technical Personnel / US Army
- 1990 / Robert Dixon / Technical Personnel / US Army
At McDaniel, every Physics and Pre-Engineering student partakes in a significant directed physics research project as part of the Department’s degree requirements. These projects have included thermoluminescence, computer modeling, the physics of sports, and optics and lasers. In addition, interested majors play an active role in the research programs of faculty. Students gain hands-on experience with the latest research techniques in the fields of Solid State Physics, Nonlinear Optics, and Physics Education. Such student-faculty collaboration provides students the opportunity to produce published articles in prestigious technical journals and presentations at local, national, and international professional meetings.
A sample of recent student-faculty research collaboration includes:
|Morgan De Hart||Dr. Apollo Mian||Measuring the Speed of Light Using Frequency Mixers|
|Matthew Bisenius||Dr. Jeff Marx||Construction of an Optical-Electro-Mechanical Trigger for a High-Speed Camera|
|Meredith Larsen||Dr. Bill Pagonis||An Analysis of the Accuracy and Precision of the TT-OSL PORAT Protocol|
|Ben Fisher||Dr. Apollo Mian||Propagation of a Gaussian Beam Around a Circular Disk|
|Atlee Baker||Dr. Bill Pagonis||Heat and Light: Accuracy and Precision of the Isothermal Thermoluminescence Protocol|
The Physics faculty are dedicated to providing students with the essential skills and knowledge required to pursue a wide range of professional careers. A large number of physics majors have been admitted to highly ranked universities to pursue graduate studies in physics at programs including the following:
College of William and Mary
George Washington University
Pennsylvania State University
University of Maryland
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rochester
Washington University at St. Louis
The Physics Department expects students will learn how to use the software Mathematica in all their advanced classes, and our computer-based physics laboratory emphasizes data collection, analysis and modeling of physical phenomena. The computers are interfaced with laboratory equipment, and students learn a significant amount of computer programming in all physics classes.
The Physics Department has numerous computers which are available for students' classwork and research projects. Our physics majors learn how to use the software Mathematica in all their advanced classes, and our computer-based physics laboratory emphasizes data collection, analysis and modelling of physical phenomena. The computers are interfaced with laboratory equipment, and students learn a significant amount of computer programming in all physics classes.
The Department also has active research programs in Solid State Physics, Nonlinear Optics, and Physics Education Research.
The Solid State Physics Laboratory features the following:
- Computer controlled thermoluminescence apparatus including photomultiplier tube
- Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) setup for studying the luminescence properties of luminescencent materials
- Time-Resolved Optical Luminescence setup (TR-OSL) for measuring the luminescence lifetimes of optical materials
- UV and Beta irradiation chambers
- Sample preparation setup
- Several computer-interfaced UV/VIS spectrometers for studying the optical properties of thermoluminescent crystals.
The Nonlinear Optics Laboratory features the following:
- Nitrogen-pumped dye-laser system producing 7 ns pulses
- Melles-Griot air-cooled, tunable argon-ion laser system (9 lines available) with about 130 mW each at 514 nm and 488 nm.
- Omnichrome air-cooled, sealed cavity argon-ion laser operating at 488 nm with about 50 mW
- Hands-on helium-neon laser operating at 632.8 nm
- 7 mW polarized HeNe laser also operating at 632.8 nm
- 0.48 m monochromator with computer interface from CVI
- Tektronix 500 MHz digital storage oscilloscope
- Burleigh optical spectrum analyzer
- Laser beam profiler and Temperature controller from Thorlabs
- Low current amplifier, lock-in amplifier, and optical chopper from Stanford Research
- Laser power meters and photodetectors from Newport, Melles-Griot, and Thorlabs
- Research Grade optical components and holders from Melles-Griot, Thorlabs, New Focus, and Newport
- Research Grade optical table from Newport and refurbished by Vere
The Physics Education Research Laboratory features the following:
- A neutral environment for conducting and transcribing student interviews
- A workstation to build and develop interactive lecture demonstrations
- New 8-inch telescope with CCD camera