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Campus Location: 
School of Arts and Sciences

Do you want to look inside an atom, visualize the sound of a trumpet, or gaze on a supernova? Do you want to design a rocket engine that sends people into outer space or program a computer to simulate life? These are just a few of the things a physics major might do. 

We offer both a physics major and minor. Our curriculum emphasizes doing science, not just learning about science, so all courses give students the opportunity to work on experimental and theoretical projects. Many opportunities also exist to work with faculty on research projects while at Doane.


Doane physics majors may participate in month-long or semester-long internships, gaining hands-on work experience for college credit. Both paid and unpaid internships are available. Recent physics majors have been placed with

•    Glentek, El Segundo, CA
•    Nebraska Department of Roads, Lincoln, NE
•    Square D Schneider Electric, Lincoln, NE
•    U.S. STRATCOM Headquarters, Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, NE

Pre-Engineering 3-2 Program

Doane students may participate in a dual degree program in engineering that allows students to earn two degrees: a B.A. or B.S. from Doane and a B.S. in engineering or applied science from the engineering school. Normally, students attend Doane for three years and complete the program with two years of study at an engineering school. Doane has formal articulation agreements with the engineering programs at Columbia University (New York), the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and Washington University (St. Louis), but pre-engineering students may elect to complete their engineering studies at any accredited engineering school in the U.S.

Students completing the three-year pre-professional program at Doane before transferring to an engineering school may graduate from Doane by successfully completing the first year of engineering school and all other graduation requirements.  See the Engineering web page for more information.

Physics Department Web Site

Learning Environment

_MG_1647 copy.jpgAll courses are held in the $10.2 million Lied Science and Mathematics Building with:

  • three physics labs featuring state-of-the-art equipment for teaching physics and conducting research
  • a machine shop available for student use
  • access to the Physics Study Room for physics majors
  • wireless access to the campus network

The physics department has several research instruments available for student use including:

  • Amptek X-123 x-ray spectrometer
  • Amptek Eclipse IV 45kV/50μA x-ray generator
  • Amptek XRF-FP quantitative analysis software (x-ray fluorescence)
  • Cenco 1 meter curved crystal spectrometer
  • Newport RP Reliance 4’x6’ optics bench with accessories
  • Newport 2’x2’ table top optics bench
  • Kodak Motion Corder Analyzer SR-Ultra (high-speed digital video – 10000 fps)

We have many advanced lab teaching instruments including:

  • photoelectric effect apparatus
  • e/m apparatus
  • Franck-Hertz Experiment apparatus
  • nuclear counting instrumentation
  • gamma-ray spectrometry instrumentation
  • IR-visible spectrophotometer system
  • magnetic levitation apparatus
  • electron tubes
  • Celestron C-8 telescopes
  • 18” Starmaster Newtonian telescope

Students also have access to many departmental computers running Windows, OSX and Linux.

Physics students may also make use of the many instruments housed in the biology and chemistry departments including a scanning electron microscope, a 90-MHz FT-NMR spectrometer, a uv-vis spectrometer, and more.

Specialized Program Opportunities

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


View detailed course information

PHY 201 - General Physics (4)
PHY 202 - General Physics (4)
PHY 107 - Introductory Physics (4)
PHY 108 - Introductory Physics (4)
PHY 225 - Sophomore Exam (0)
PHY 302 - Electricity and Magnetism (4)
PHY 306 - Mechanics (4)
PHY 314 - Modern Physics (4)
PHY 325 - Electronics (4)
PHY 405 - Quantum Mechanics (4)
PHY 435 - Mathematical Methods for Physics (4)
PHY 395 - Physics Research I (1)
PHY 495 - Physics Research II (1)
PHY 496 - Senior Seminar (1)
CHM 125 - General Chemistry I (4)
IST 145 - Introduction to Programming and Problem-Solving (3)
MTH 235 - Calculus I (4)
MTH 236 - Calculus II (4)
MTH 329 - Differential Equations (3)
MTH 337 - Multivariate Calculus (4)
AST 103 - Introductory Astronomy (3)
AST 103L - Astronomy Laboratory (1)
GEO 103 - Physical Geology (4)
BIO 111 - Energy of Life: Cells to Ecosystems (3)
BIO 112 - Information of Life: Genetics to Evolution (3)
SCI 322 - The Teaching of Laboratory Sciences I (0-1)
SCI 324 - The Teaching of Laboratory Sciences II (0-1)
SCI 326 - The Teaching of Laboratory Sciences III (0-1)
SCI 327 - The Teaching of Laboratory Sciences IV (4)
RES 495 - Research II (1-2)
RES 496 - Research III (1-2)