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Physics / Astrophysics / Pre-Engineering

From subatomic particles to galaxies, physicists and astronomers study an enormous range of phenomena, continually examining the laws of nature and searching for those exceptions to the known laws that may lead to new understanding. Few areas of inquiry have advanced as rapidly as physics has in the last century. Astronomy, too, is undergoing a rapid pace of development with the aid of orbiting observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio Wesleyan offers a flexible and exciting program designed to prepare students for graduate study in physics, astronomy or engineering and for professional programs in medicine, dentistry, or law. We also offer 3-2 engineering opportunities, wherein a student spends three years at OWU and two in an engineering program at another school, earning bachelor’s degrees from both schools. We offer a wide variety of courses, with small classes which enable us to give each student our personal attention.

In the last few years OWU students have been accepted for graduate study at Princeton, Caltech, MIT, Cornell University, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Cambridge University, the Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and others. Our students have taken advantage of 3-2 engineering opportunities at Caltech, Washington University in St. Louis, Case Western Reserve University, and Columbia University.

However, graduate school, engineering and professional school are not the only paths our majors have followed. Many of them have used their scientific training as a springboard into a career in industry or business or in secondary education. Whatever path you follow, you’ll be working closely with expert teachers who can steer you toward research and internship opportunities both on and off campus. You’ll also benefit from Ohio Wesleyan’s liberal arts curriculum, which offers a broad range of inquiry in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, helping you raise and answer questions about values, about society and about yourself.

Distinctions earned by our students include:

Alex Howe '11 was named a Finalist for the 2011 LeRoy Apker Award, a very prestigious undergraduate physics achievement award from the American Physical Society, based on nuclear physics research he performed at OWU under the guidance of Dr. Bob Haring-Kaye. You can read more about Alex and his research in this Connect2 OWU story. Alex is starting graduate study in astrophysics at Princeton.

Claire Ryu '07 was one of three recipients nationwide of the 2007 Society of Physics Students Outstanding Student Awards for Undergraduate Research, for which she received an expenses-paid trip to present her work at the 2007 International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) in London, England. Claire worked on nuclear physics research with Dr. Bob Haring-Kaye. Claire is currently a graduate student in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. The following year, Rachael Roettenbacher '08 received the same award for 2008 for astrophysics research she did with Dr. Bob Harmon. Rachael presented her research at the 2008 ICPS in Krakow, Poland. She was also named one of five finalists for the 2008 Vanderbilt Prize for Undergraduate Research in Physics and Astronomy. At present Rachael is a graduate student in astrophysics at the University of Michigan.

The OWU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students was named a recipient of a Blake Lilly Prize for 2009, one of five chapters across the nation to be so honored. The Blake Lily Prize recognizes chapters and individuals who positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics.

The Blake Lily Prize follows the Outstanding Chapter Award received by our chapter for 2008, and Marsh M. White Awards for Public Outreach received in 2007 and 2008. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes selected chapters for their work in such areas as physics research, public science outreach, physics tutoring programs, hosting and representation at physics meetings and events, and providing social interaction for chapter members. Marsh M. White Awards are granted to SPS Chapters to enable them to perform public outreach to promote interest in physics amongst students and the general public. In 2008 and 2009, the money from the award allowed us to travel to Briggs High School in Columbus and present some of our favorite demonstrations for Mr. Darren Greschuk's physics class. In 2007, we traveled to Tyler Run Elementary School in Powell, OH to do physics demonstrations.

To learn more about our people and programs, follow the links on the left.