Undergraduate Catalog 2013-14
Thinking about the discipline: Physics is the study of matter, energy, and their fundamental interactions. Physics laws govern the dynamics and structure of physical systems (ranging from subatomic particles to the entire universe). Applications of physics have led to the development of new technologies at all levels. The NKU physics program is a vibrant community of faculty and staff whose main objective is to prepare students for a variety of careers in physics and related areas. NKU offers physics majors two degree tracks as well as a pre-engineering dual-degree option. NKU also offers the physics minor. People with bachelor’s degrees in physics are often hired for their problem-solving skills, and they find careers in industry, government, and education. Recent NKU physics graduates have worked for companies in telecommunication, manufacturing, engineering, and product research. About a third of NKU physics graduates continue their education after leaving NKU to become research physicists in specialized areas such as astrophysics; elementary particles and fields; nuclear physics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; plasma physics; biophysics; chemical physics; condensed-matter physics; low-temperature physics; and others. Some physics graduates have chosen to further their education by pursing advanced degree programs in other related areas, including engineering, medicine, mathematics, and computer science. Physicists with the appropriate terminal degree can teach at the secondary or college level.
Special opportunities for our students: Undergraduate students (physics majors and other related majors) have the opportunity to participate in research with physics faculty in the department. In recent years, physics faculty have supervised student research in computational physics, optical sciences, material science, geophysics, gravitation and relativity, astrophysics, and particle physics. The physics program has 2,700 square feet of research lab space. This includes a machine shop and six research labs: computational research lab, X-ray diffraction lab, radioisotope lab, material science lab, optical sciences lab, and particle astrophysics lab. In support of research, the physics program is equipped with a computer cluster, a Mossbauer spectrometer, vacuum systems, a modulated differential calorimeter, wide bandwidth digital and analog oscilloscopes, CAMAC data-acquisition equipment, high-speed NIM electronics, air-supported optics tables, UVNIR spectroradiometers, laser Raman spectrometer spin processor for micro-fabrication, pulsed/CW NMR spectrometer, and an X-ray diffractometer. Students are encouraged to become active members of the Physics and Pre-engineering Club, which holds special events such as telescope nights, planetarium shows, and physics demonstration shows.