Physics Special Opportunities

Hartwick professor and students at Arecibo Telescope in PR

Society of Physics Students (SPS) and Sigma Pi Sigma (SPS) the Physics Honors Society

SPS is a professional physics association explicitly designed for students. Associated with SPS is Sigma Pi Sigma, nationally recognized scholastic honor society, which elects members each year on the basis of outstanding achievement. Hartwick maintains active membership in both societies.

SPS provides each student the opportunity of participating in the physics community on a professional basis. Members receive the publications, “Physics Today”, “The Journal of Undergraduate Physics” and the “SPS Newsletter”. The latter covers local, regional and national SPS activities and includes the latest job information.

Hartwick also has a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society. Each spring, our chapter inducts new members into that honor society at a formal ceremony that is followed by a dinner for all the faculty and students in the department.

Research Opportunities

Physics faculty at Hartwick College are active in research and are always looking to work with students on their own research or to mentor students with their own projects they are interested in. Current faculty research has been centered on radio astronomy observations using the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico, experimental studies of acoustic analogs to quantum graphs, and the use of microcontrollers in physics labs. There are also opportunities to take part in interdisciplinary research with other departments on campus.

Hartwick physics majors present their research at national scientific meetings and conferences.

  • Kyle Murray, ’15 presented a poster at the American Astronomical Society’s national meeting in Washington, DC in January, 2014 titled: “Star Formation and Gas Content in the NRGb 168 Galaxy Group”
  • Nathan Nichols, ’14 presented a poster at the American Astronomical Society’s national meeting in Washington, DC in January, 2014 titled:  “L-Band Wide Follow -up Survey: Interesting Candidates and IDL Routines”
  • Steve Grzeskowiak, ’14 presented a poster at the American Astronomical Society’s national meeting in Washington, DC in January, 2014 titled:  “L-Band Wide Follow -up Survey: Interesting Candidates and IDL Routines”
  • Alexa Dickerson, ’16 and Samantha Malcolm, ’16  presented a poster at the NYS section Spring 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society at SUNY Oswego titled: “Acoustic Analogs of Quantum Chaos”

Physics Facilities

The Hartwick physics students have a wide variety of resources to take advantage of in their studies. Perhaps the most important resource is the physics study room. This is a lounge for physics students to socialize and study. It includes a microwave, refrigerator, and an all-important coffee maker. Our optics lab contains a large vibration-isolation table for use in optics experiments lab and for student projects. The advanced laboratory has an Ortec multichannel analyzer and a scintillation detector for nuclear physics experiments. Other specialized equipment includes extensive fiber optic equipment, assorted lasers, a nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus,  fast data acquisition devices, Arduinos, and Raspberry Pis. The department also has software licenses MATLAB and IDL.  For students interested in building the Physics Department has a small shop area with a milling machine/lathe, a drill press, power hacksaw/bandsaw, welding equipment and a 3D printer.

The Ernest B. Wright Observatory consists of a 4 meter(13 foot) diameter domed building and an adjacent astronomy classroom building located high atop Oyaron Hill on the Hartwick College campus. The domed building houses a 40 cm (16 inch) Maksutov convertible Cassegrain/Newtonian telescope. The observatory also has several 20 cm Cassegrain telescope. Physics students can arrange to use the observatory for a senior thesis project or a directed study. On special occasions the observatory has open viewing for members of the Oneonta community. Also young people from the local schools, scouting groups etc. occasionally arrange visits to the observatory. The observatory has a CCD camera to take digital pictures, which can be digitally processed and enhanced. In addition there is a fine photometer for measuring light intensity of variable intensity astronomical objects. A full range of eyepieces, filters, cameras, film, adapters, charts, logbooks, lounge chairs, and tools used at the observatory is kept in the classroom building next to the dome.

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