The Physics curriculum at William Jewell College is designed to provide students with scientific and technical experience, with a strong background in the liberal arts. The liberal arts background insures that students have skills in writing, speaking, and interpersonal relationships that enhance their careers in the sciences and in other technical fields.
Studying Physics at William Jewell provides opportunities to participate in a variety of college-sponsored programs (intercollegiate athletics, music, fine arts, and Christian missions); to study in a department that offers personal attention and small classes (taught exclusively by Ph.D. professors); and to become active in research and professional societies as undergraduates.
Degree programs offered:
Bachelor of Arts:
Dual Degree Engineering:
In conjunction with Washington University, Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, University of Kansas, Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Minor in Physics
Distinctives: In addition to majoring in physics, students can major in mathematics. Through this course of study, students can explore connections between the various areas of mathematics and other liberal arts courses. Many physics and math majors choose to double major or create their own majors. This option allows students to customize their education and focus their attention and research interests in specific and meaningful directions. Other unique aspects of this program include:
Students are prepared for many careers in business and not-for-profit organizations, or graduate studies;
Students are able to collaborate on research projects with other students and professors, broadening students’ experiences and research backgrounds;
Small class sizes and personal attention allow students to be active in the learning process and enhance the educational experience.
The Professional Physics Track prepares students for Graduate School in Physics or Engineering following completion of the Physics B.A. degree.
The Engineering Track prepares students for the final two years in Engineering School following 3-4 years of study at Jewell. Students completing an engineering degree also receive a Physics B.A. degree.
The Pre-Professional Track prepares students for Medical, Dental, Optometry, or other Professional Schools following completion of the Physics B.A. degree.
The High School Teaching Track prepares students for high school teaching following completion of the Physics Education B.A. degree.
The Technical Employment Track prepares students for careers in highly technical fields (including business), following completion of the Science and Technology Management B.A. degree. Also, graduates may elect to pursue degrees in law or MBA's.
Dual Degree The Physics Department offers several opportunities for students to earn both a Physics degree from WJC and an engineering degree from one of several institutions. These dual degree programs typically involve 3-4 years of study at Jewell, together with two additional years at the engineering school. Jewell’s liberal arts curriculum insures that students have skills in writing, speaking, and interpersonal relations, necessary for career advancement as engineers.
One of our dual-degree graduates, Chris Ruckman, explains the importance of his experience at Jewell:
“I believe the liberal arts education I received at William Jewell has been a key factor to my success as an engineer. The opportunity to study in a liberal arts environment gave me ‘real world skills’ that are so often ignored in a traditional engineering curriculum. I’ve found that engineers with these skills stand out in the work place and are much more valuable to employers.”
Chris Ruckman, PE Burns and McDonnell Engineering
William Jewell College offers dual-degree engineering and engineering-related programs at four institutions. Those institutions and the degree options for each are listed below:
University of Kansas (requires prior consent)
Areas of study vary according to the school. Areas of study include: Aerospace engineering, Architectural Engineering, Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Engineering Science, Mechanical Engineering, Systems Science and Engineering.
Double-Diffusive Instability Jewell students used Schlieren imaging to view the otherwise transparent double-diffusive instability at the interface of a sucrose solution and a solution of salt water in a vertical Hele-Shaw cell. The thickness of the flow was only 0.8 mm. The flow cell used was constructed by faculty and students at William Jewell.
Saffman-Taylor Instabiity This video shows the Saffman-Taylor instability imaged using fluorescence of the molecular probe pyrene. Silicone was injected into a highly viscous polymer (Lauryl Acrylate) containing pyrene. The flow was imaged by Jewell students using a Nikon D7000 camera monitoring the fluorescence emission during ultraviolet irradiation. Jewell students will be further developing this technique with the goal of in situ measurement of viscosity during reactive flows.
Neutralization Reaction This video shows the chemically-driven instability discovered by De Wit and colleagues at the University of Brussels.* Aqueous hydrochloric acid is injected above the base NaOH in a Hele-Shaw cell (two glass plates separated by less than a mm). The reaction between the two leads to salt plumes rising. All components of the reaction are completely transparent. The video was recorded by William Jewell Physics students using Schlieren imaging.
*C. Almarcha, Y. R’Honi, Y. Decker, P. Trevelyan, and A. De Wit, “Convective Mixing Induced by Acid-Base Reactions” J. Phys. Chem. B115 (2011) 9739-9744.
Fluids Research - Dr. Bunton A new area of research for us is just beginning in support of a theoretical physicist in Belgium. In this experiment we will monitor changes in flow at an interface between two fluids when the fluids are reactive. This promises to be an exciting an interesting area for us. The presence of the chemical reaction alters the physical parameters of the fluids with resultant changes in flow patterns. For example when HCl and NaOH react, the product is salt water. However the salt water has different physical properties (density, thermal diffusivity, diffusion coefficient, etc) than either of the reqactiants. [For example see “Chemically Driven Hydrodynamic Instabilities” by C. Almarcha, P. M. Trevelyan, P. Grosfils, and A. De Wit in Phy. Rev. Lett. 104 2010 044501.] A WJC student has constructed a Mach-Zehnder interferometer and is testing it to determine if it the sensitivity to observe these flow patterns.
Glass Far from Stability – Dr. Baker Most of our everyday experience with glass is with looking out windows.But glass can exhibit many remarkable properties.For example some glass can behave as a semiconductor – meaning that it can carry an electric current.We are using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to investigate the properties of exotic glass formulations.Glass is fabricated at Coe College by heating the appropriate constituents to temperature over 1000ºC and then cooling it at rates approaching 100,000ºC per second.Using this technique we can fabricate glass of non-traditional formulations.Students at Jewell then investigate the properties of the glass using EPR.Our facilities allow us to cool the glass to temperatures within four degrees of absolute zero.We are looking for trends in atomic bonding as the constituents of the glass are changed.Students have presented their research on this work at the Sigma Pi Sigma World Congress at Fermilab in 2008 and at the inaugural session of the Prairie Meeting of the American Physical Society in the fall of 2009.
Astronomy – Variable and Binary Stars – Dr. Sherer Variable stars are stars that get brighter and dimmer with time because they have an unstable structure causing their temperature and size to fluctuate. Sub-dwarf B variable stars are very hot stars that have evolved and lost their outer envelopes. These stars are very rapid variable stars, fluctuating on the order hours or even minutes. The periods of pulsation can be used to find the internal structure of the stars and determine the mass and radius of the stars. Binary stars are two stars that are gravitationally bound together so that they orbit each other. Eclipsing binaries are a set of stars that are aligned such that periodically, the light of one star blocks part of the light from the other. From these eclipses, the mass and radius of the stars can be determined. Students at William Jewell are able to take data on both these types of stars by travelling to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
About once a month, the observatory is open to the public for viewing. The observatory is on top of White Science Center.
The Pillsbury Observatory of William Jewell College is equipped with a 14-inch Celestron telescope on a Byers Class 2 mount in a 5-meter dome.
Accessories include a CCD camera (SBIG Model ST-9E) with color filters and image processing software and a full-aperture solar filter. A low-light-level monochrome TV camera and 20-inch monitor are available for observation of craters on the moon. Also, conventional film cameras are provided in both 35mm and 4x5 format, along with a well-equipped darkroom.
The Observatory is used during the Fall semester in the teaching of the Physics Department's Basic Astronomy course, which has a lab/observing session each Wednesday night. Both Fall and Spring semesters there are opportunities for its use by students who enroll in the Department's "Research Experience" course. There are also Open House nights scheduled each month for other students and members of the larger Liberty community.
Observatory activities are under the direction of Dr. Maggie Brewer Sherer, whose Ph.D. is in Observational Astronomy from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Contact information: phone (816) 415-7881; email shererm AT william.jewell DOT edu.
Pillsbury Research Scholars
2012 - 2013 Pillsbury Scholars: Samantha Cobb, Simone Stewart, Michael Rawat, Gabrielle Brooks, Zachery Taylor
One exciting opportunity for students in the Physics Department is our Pillsbury Scholars Research Program. Each year three students—typically from the first or second year class—are chosen to engage in eight weeks of paid summer research. Students selected for this program also receive free on-campus housing.
Students work closely with one or more faculty members on various projects. Some projects involve fundamental research on novel materials or calculations on various types of stars. Other projects are oriented toward engineering and design. One recent example of a design project is a water-purification system for use in third-world countries.
Besides laboratory work, students get a chance to interact with peers and faculty members in a setting outside of the usual classroom. As part of this interaction, students and faculty get to know each other by playing a game of Botchee Ball on The Quad or making liquid nitrogen ice cream. Students also enjoy a day together at Worlds of Fun.
One of the most frequently-asked questions among prospective students is: What can you do with a physics degree? Actually, physics students are very well-equipped for a variety of careers, after completing their studies at William Jewell College. Over the past several years, a number of our students have matriculated in Masters’ or Ph.D. programs in physics, chemistry, or engineering upon receiving the B.A. degree. In many cases, those students have pursued research or technical careers after graduate studies. These careers often involve positions as research scientists, project engineers, professors, or electrical, mechanical, or civil engineers.
Physics also is excellent preparation for professional schools in business, law, and medicine. In today’s highly technical world, more and more businesses are looking for students trained in business and in technical fields such as physics. Therefore, many MBA programs are accepting an increasing number of scientifically-trained students. At the undergraduate level, our own Science and Technology Management degree prepares students in science and business. In the field of law, physics provides outstanding preparation for becoming a patent lawyer. Finally, professional schools in health care, including medical, dental, and optometry schools, require strong backgrounds in science.
Other possible careers, following undergraduate preparation, are teaching and engineering. Students interested in teaching physics at the secondary level can obtain a teaching certificate from Jewell with a four-year degree. Students pursuing undergraduate engineering degrees usually complete “3-2” or “4-2” programs in which the students complete 3 or 4 years of study at Jewell, followed by 1-2 years of study at select engineering schools. Following completion of the engineering curriculum, students receive two undergraduate degrees—one from Jewell in physics and one from the engineering school in a specific field. Students interested in these unique engineering programs should contact Professor Patrick Bunton (buntonp AT william.jewell DOT edu) or Professor Blane Baker (bakerb AT william.jewell DOT edu).
Society of Physics Students
Physics students at WJC are members of a national organization known as SPS (Society of Physics Students). As a participating group within this community, Jewell’s SPS chapter has garnered Outstanding Chapter Awards in 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2009-10. WJC students regularly present posters and/or talks at national conferences sponsored by SPS.
On the local level, SPS holds regular meetings on the first Monday of each month. Speakers at the monthly meetings have included scientists, mathematicians, high school teachers, patent lawyers, and engineers. Over the past five years, approximately 30 speakers have visited the WJC Physics Department. The local chapter also participates in Homecoming, summer science camps for kids, and service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. The group often makes trips to regional SPS meetings, museums, and other attractions during the academic year. SPS officers for 2013-2014 are President Bradley Dice, Vice President Conner Hazelrigg and Secretary Samantha Lampe.
Recent Student News
Blair Unger completed his Ph.D. in Optics at University of Rochester.
Jen McKnight is pursuing a Ph.D. in Physics at Washington University.
John Spiegel is working as a Customer Service Representative for Boston Financial Data Services.
Pierce Tucker is working at Fiserve in Dallas.
Cam Cooper is working at Burns and McDonnell as an engineer.
Tom Rychlewski is employed at CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc.
K.C. Maynes is employed as an Operations Research Systems Analyst.
Jenna Gales is employed as an Operations Research Systems Analyst.
D. Blane Baker, Ph.D. Wallace A. Hilton Professor of Physics bakerb AT william.jewell DOT edu B.A., William Jewell College; M.A., Washington University; Ph.D., Washington University.
Maggie Brewer Sherer, Ph.D. Professor of Physics and Chair shererm AT william.jewell DOT edu B.S., Emory and Henry College; M.S., Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.