Learning to work as a scientist is an important goal of the Doane physics program. Physics majors have a variety of on and off-campus research experiences available to them. Students are encouraged to join on-campus research with physics faculty. Physics faculty and students regularly participate in the Doane College Summer Research Program, which pays students to work on a project during the summer.
Students are also encouraged to participate in one of the many summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs available regionally and nationally.
Every physics major (unless you elect the teacher education track) completes a senior research project in a three semester research sequence. Students work closely with a faculty mentor to define the project, carry it out, and then report the results in a formal thesis and at the college's undergraduate symposium, MindExpo, or at a regional or national meeting.
Dr. Wentworth's Research Areas
My research interests are focused primarily in two areas: physics education and computational physics of many-body systems, although since joining the choir at church I have also developed an interest in musical acoustics.
In the area of physics education I have been developing curriculum materials for teaching physical science to elementary education majors and teaching introductory physics using the human body as a context for learning physics principles. The human body curriculum is being developed as part of a project called The Humanized Physics Project, which involves collaboration with people at other institutions. My students and I have also developed a variety of multimedia resources to help teach introductory physics including digital video clips and analysis software and Flash-based animations. Most of the curriculum and multimedia materials we have developed are published on the web at the web sites shown below. There are many opportunities for physics students to participate in this area of research. Students can
- design, develop, and test equipment for lab activities to support the curriculum;
- plan, create, and analyze video clips to be used in lab activities;
- develop Flash-based animations.
Doane College Physics Video Library: website
The Humanized Physics Project: website
In the area of computational physics, I have been using the tools of statistical physics and computational science to investigate solid state diffusion and the growth of biofilms. In the area of solid state diffusion I am investigating the effect of structural disorder on the diffusive transport. Some of the on-going questions we are considering include
- What conditions or properties of a system give rise to anomalous diffusion, characterized by a non-linear mean-square displacement of a tracer particle?
- How do correlations in the motions of individual particles affect the behavior of the system?
In the area of biofilms I am developing a mathematical model of the growth dynamics for pseudomonas aeruginosa in glucose and will eventually develop an individual-based simulation model to investigate the spatial organization of the film growth.
Students interested in scientific computer programming will find many opportunities to explore their interests in this research area.
Computational Physics Research: website