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Enhance Your Education

Distinctive Programs in Physics

There are ample opportunities to enhance your studies in physics through independent research, off-campus study, and internships. These programs are integral to a Knox education, teaching you how to apply your skills in real world situations.

Interdisciplinary projects are popular at Knox.Student Research and Creative Projects
Knox is a leader in promoting top-notch undergraduate research. In fact, more than 90% of all Knox students complete an independent research or creative project by the time they graduate. All physics faculty at Knox are engaged in on-going research projects.  Knox students are deeply involved in the projects, carrying out independent investigations, designing software and apparatus, acquiring and interpreting data, presenting their results, and even co-authoring peer reviewed journal articles.

Interdisciplinary projects are popular at Knox. The Mössbauer laboratory in the physics department investigates structure-function relationships in iron-containing proteins, important functional components of every living cell. Similarly, the liquid crystal lab investigates surface ordering and phase transitions using laser spectroscopy. The magnetic susceptibililty lab studies magnetic interactions between metal ions in organo-metallic compounds.

Many students' projects are supported by an unusually rich array of Knox College funding programs that together provide students more than $250,000 each year in support of their work. These sources include: Richter Memorial Scholars Program, Ford Foundation Research Fellows Program, Ronald E. McNair Fellows Program, Robert Mariner Research Award, Donald Benedict Student Research Fund Award, and departmentally supported independent studies. In addition, special fellowships awarded to Knox through national competitions and through the research grants of Knox faculty make Knox a leader in promoting undergraduate research. Examples of some recent student research projects include:

  • Chiral Fluctuations in Liquid Crystals," Kat Sullivan '13, physics major.
  • "Magnetic Characterization of Carboxylate-Bridged Copper Diners," Emma Lorenzen '13, physics major.
  • "Fabry-Perot Interferometer and the Zeeman Effect," Mark Wolak '12, physics major.
  • "Maglev," Ruby Goh '11, physics major.
  • "Group Theory and Quantum Mechanics," Simon Schneider '10, physics major.
  • "Particle Physics," John Perleberg '10, and Simon Schneider '10, physics majors.
  • "Fluid Mechanics," Fahim Chandawala '08, physics major.

College Honors
Outstanding students may elect to undertake College Honors in their senior year, carrying out an advanced research project presented and defended to a faculty committee that includes a distinguished outside examiner. Examples of recent Honors projects include:

  • "A Hydrodynamical Modeling of RS Ophiuchi," Tomomi Sunayama '09.
  • "A Longitudinal Investigation of the Forces Impacting the Articular Cartilage in the Knees of NCAA Division III Football Players During One Season," Sarah Mariel West '09.
  • "Magnetic Birefringence and Light Scattering in Liquid Crystals and Related Compounds," by Jason Reeves '04.

Off-campus Study
Knox offers you plenty of opportunities to begin exploring the world while still a student. Almost 50% of Knox students participate in off-campus study and consider their studies abroad to be the highlight of their college experiences. Knox offers several off-campus programs of particular interest to physics students:

  • Argonne National Laboratories conducts research in all sciences; recent projects include nuclear chemistry, superconductivity and energy resources.
  • The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee studies both the natural and social sciences, specializing in interdisciplinary work in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics, as well as economics, political science and sociology-anthropology.

As a student of physics at Knox, you'll have the opportunity to expand your education -- to get that valuable experience you hear so much about -- by completing an internship. Internships provide an opportunity to explore and test career options, to gain experiences and skills needed to succeed as a professional, to build a resume, to network and make critical connections, and to experience a work environment. More and more employers are looking for college graduates with career-related experience. Knox's Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development specializes in helping you find an internship that best matches your goals and interests.

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