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Department of Physics: Teaching and Research

Mission Statement:
 
The Department of Physics is an integral part of the College of Arts and Sciences and Creighton University as a whole, and as such is committed to a quality liberal education in the Jesuit tradition. Through physics, the most fundamental of the natural sciences, we stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop the student's understanding of the world around us. Through classroom experiences, laboratory discovery activity and opportunities for research participation, we guide students towards a mastery of the skills and tools physicists use to address fundamental questions, foster the development of a logical approach to problem solving, and aid the development of an ethical framework, both professionally and personally. Through close personal attention we help students to develop confidence in their abilities.
 
 
Graduate Program:
 
Our M.S. graduate program began in 1968 with an initial enrollment of two graduate Teaching Fellows and several part-time students. Since then it has grown to support nine Teaching Fellows and several Research Fellows, along with part-time students. Teaching Fellows perform an essential service to the department as junior colleagues as well as being full-time graduate students. Our graduation rate matches the number of students we have in our program: 8-10 over a typical 2-year period. All full-time graduate students are encouraged to follow Plan-A, the thesis track, while Plan-B is more appropriate for part-time students. All of our faculty, at various times, serve as research advisors for one or more graduate students. Thesis committees comprise the adviser plus two additional faculty members. Graduate students present their work at the weekly departmental seminar, at the annual meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, St. Albert’s Day, and at local, national and international professional conferences. They often have their thesis work published in professional journals, co-authored with their adviser. Faculty are also involved in composing and grading written comprehensive exams which graduate students must pass.
 
About one-third of our graduates go on to pursue the Ph.D. in physics. The remainder have found success in a variety of areas, including medicine, medical physics, industry, computer programming, national laboratories, and teaching.
 
Departmental Activities:
 
In addition to teaching and research, the physics department engages in various extra-curricular activities. These include a Retreat, a Field Day for high school students, invited speakers in our Seminar courses, Dr. Zepf’s Haunted Physics Lab around Halloween, a Christmas party, a Fall picnic, and an Evening of Reflection at the end of the academic year. The department also participates in Career Days and an Open House in the Fall to attract majors. Each year, there is a university-wide St. Albert’s Day poster and oral research presentation event on campus for students to present their ongoing research. There is a Graduate Student organization, which all graduate students can join, that presents an Open House each year. Also, the International Students have an organization that presents an Open House and other festivities.
 
 
Physical Facilities:
 
Since 1968, when physics first moved into the Rigge Science building, the number of our faculty and staff has more than doubled. The demand for our courses is extremely high; enrollment in our astronomy course, for example, has grown to over 400 students per year.   At the beginning of 2003, the departmental offices were moved to the new Hixson-Lied (HL) Science Building. Also included in the new building are the Teaching/Research Fellows’ offices, physics club room, faculty/staff lounge, a student study area, and a new large classroom. The Rigge Science building was also renovated during 2003-2004.
 
Departmental Office Areas: The departmental office is located in room G81. Across the hall, room G79 houses the departmental work room which includes the mailboxes, supply storage, Fax machine, and copier.
 
Undergraduate Physics Club Room: Room G55 contains ample space for the convenience of physics club members. It includes several computers, copier, and a small library.
 
Fellows Office Suite: Room G63 affords office space for up to nine Fellows. Each desk is equipped with a computer and an adjoining book shelf. Each computer is interfaced to a common printer. The adjoining room, G62, has space for three Fellows.
 
Conference Room: The conference room is used primarily for departmental and committee meetings. The conference room, G05, is located on the ground floor of Rigge. It also contains a small kitchen area.
 
Reinert Alumni Library: This is the main university library. It is easily accessible without going outdoors by walking through the Eppley Business College building (connected to Rigge) on the second floor. Current journals are located on the upper level of the library, new books are displayed on the main level, and physics books are shelved in the lower level. Reserve materials and inter-library loans are obtained at the front desk. Electronic access is available through www.creighton.edu/libraries.
 
Lecture Rooms: The large lecture room is G59, which seats about 60 students and is adaptable for small group instruction. The smaller class room, G09, is located in room on the ground floor of Rigge. It can seat up to around 20 students. Each room is equipped with modern AV facilities and internet hook-ups are available at each student space.
 
Undergraduate Laboratories: Three General Physics laboratories and an astronomy laboratory are situated on the ground floor of Rigge. Upper division laboratories are to be found in the lower level of Rigge. These include Electronics, Modern Physics, Optics, Condensed Matter, and Nuclear Instruments and Methods (NIM). 
 
Research Laboratories: Research laboratories in the areas of Condensed Matter, Biophysics, and Atomic Physics are located on the lower level of Rigge. The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), astrophysics,  computational biophysics and astro-particle research areas are located on the ground floor of Rigge.
 
Machine Shop:  The fully-equipped departmental machine shop is located on the lower level of Rigge. The machines in the shop are operated by a full-time machinist. 

 

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