Students perform research in and outside of the classroom. Students benefit from research training, state-of-the-art equipment, and student/professor research collaborations. Physics students hone their speaking skills with lab presentations in both Fundamentals of Physics 3 and Advanced Laboratory courses, as well as project presentations in many upper level courses. Students work with professors on St. Mary’s Projects, directed research courses, and summer internships. Students also receive training in finding internships beyond St. Mary’s.
This video on SMCM physics research opportunities was created by SMCM students, Derek Kozak and Nate Donoghue:
Atom Interferometery and Light Scattering
Professor – Chuck Adler
Professor Adler has been in a long-term collaboration with Dr. Frank Narducci of NAWCAD. The research in this collaboration involves using ultra-cold atoms to build highly sensitive magnetometers for Navy uses. The project involves fundamental properties of quantum mechanics: the idea that atoms, like light waves, can be interfered. Currently, his research involves building this system; in particular, he is constructing a dual MOT (Magneto-Optical Trap) for trapping and cooling atoms for the interferometer. This involves the design and construction of a novel electromagnet system.
For the last two decades, Dr. Adler has also been involved with research in atmospheric optics: optic of the rainbow, ice crystal halos, the Green Flash, and other aspects of the interaction of light with the atmosphere and landscape. He hosted the 10th International “Light and Color in the Open Air” conference at St. Mary’s College in June, 2010. This is a gathering of scientists from around the world who study atmospheric optics; it was the first international scientific conference ever hosted by the college. The photographic exhibition running parallel to the conference, “The Atmosphere Exposed”, has been displayed at the National Science Foundation main headquarters as part of the “Art of Science” program, and traveled to the American Center for Physics in May, 2012.
He is interested in a wide variety of other topics: he currently is researching the interrelation between science and music in the work of Vincenzo Galilei (Galileo’s father) and writing a book on the science of science fiction, which will be published by Princeton University Press in late 2013.
Acoustical Properties of Inhomogeneous Materials
Professor – Michelle Milne
Professor Milne investigates the acoustical properties of inhomogeneous materials, which have a number of interesting applications in the medical field of ultrasound. She is particularly interested in using ultrasound to examine cardiac tissue, but she and her students have also looked at other materials that exhibit similar long-fiber structure such as pineapples.