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From Near Extinction to Modeled Excellence: The UW La Crosse Physics Program Gubbi Sudhakaran Department of Physics University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Presentation on theme: "From Near Extinction to Modeled Excellence: The UW La Crosse Physics Program Gubbi Sudhakaran Department of Physics University of Wisconsin-La Crosse"— Presentation transcript:

1 From Near Extinction to Modeled Excellence: The UW La Crosse Physics Program Gubbi Sudhakaran Department of Physics University of Wisconsin-La Crosse SPIN-UP Regional Workshop Marquette University June 19 th 2009

2 Brief History In the early 90’s, the Department of Physics had a total of 6 physics majors, 5 faculty and a graduation rate of one physics major every two years. Research was virtually nonexistent. The Department had received poor reviews from the Academic Program Review committee and UW-System had recommended phasing out the UW-L Physics Program due to low graduation rates. The Department was on the verge of becoming extinct!

3 Fall 2008 There were 120 majors, 8 faculty and 21 graduating physics majors in the academic year. For the fall 2008 semester, 38 freshmen entered UW-L as physics majors.

4 Academic Programs Emphases and Concentrations Dual Degree Program Undergraduate Research Seminar for Credit Recruitment Assessment Factors Contributing to Success

5 Introduction of New Academic Programs One of the important additions in attracting new physics majors was the introduction of a set of emphasis programs that could be packaged along with course and career information. Physics major with: a) Astronomy emphasis b) Computational physics emphasis c) Optics emphasis d) Business concentration e) Biomedical concentration 1)Student interest 2)Faculty expertise 3)Employment opportunities

6 Dual Degree Program This is a collaborative program between UW-L and four engineering colleges (UW-Madison, Milwaukee, Platteville and U. Minnesota). The students spend three years at UW-L studying physics and then transfer to an engineering college for two years. The student receives a B.S. degree in physics (along with a math minor) from UW-L and a B.S. degree in engineering from the engineering college. The dual degree program combines the richness of a traditional liberal arts education with scientific and technological skills so much in demand today.

7 Undergraduate Research One of the major facts that leads to high student satisfaction with our program is a strong set of research experiences for the undergraduate physics majors. Incentive for Faculty and Students Student Presentations Student Awards

8 Student Presentations Annual UW-L Undergraduate Research Symposium Annual UW-System Undergraduate Research Symposium Annual Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Conference National Council on Undergraduate Research Conference Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session on Capitol Hill

9 Incentive for Faculty Teaching Credit for involving Undergraduate Students in Research Reduce Teaching Load for new Faculty Humane Teaching Assignments for new Faculty Schedule free time for Research Bring new Faculty in one month early

10 Student Scholarships/Grants/Awards Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholarship Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Fellowship American Physical Society, Division of Laser Science Summer Research Fellowship Sigma Xi Grants-In-Aid Research Award NASA Academy Summer Research Fellowship Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Strzelczek Award Murphy Award Homeland Security Scholarship

11 External Funding 1.National Science Foundation $1,194,090 RUI$613,672 MRI$404,906 ILI$88,162 CRIF$69,950 International$17,400 2.Research Corporation $156,071 3.NASA (Astronomy)$172,301 4.Educational Grants$180,000 Total$1,702462

12 Seminar for Credit This was designed to provide a meeting place for the majors and faculty. Students must attend all seminars and either present a seminar or write a report on one of them at the end of the semester. 1)Speakers from various fields 2)Showcase undergraduate research 3)Talks on research topics, careers, and engineering programs 4)Physics Club-SPS events 5)Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics

13 2002 DLS speaker: 1996 Nobel Laureate in Physics Douglas D. Osheroff Stanford University 2001 DLS speaker: 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics Steven Chu Stanford University 2000 DLS speaker: 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics William D. Phillips National Institute of Standards and Technology The Annual Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics 2003 DLS speaker: 1996 Nobel Laureate in Physics Robert Richardson Cornell University 2004 DLS speaker: 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physics Joseph H. Taylor Princeton University 2005 DLS speaker: 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics Horst L. Stormer Columbia University 2006 DLS speaker 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics Wolfgang Ketterle Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2007 DLS speaker; 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics Eric Cornell NIST, Boulder, CO 2008 DLS speaker; 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics Frank Wilczek MIT 2009 DLS speaker; 2002 Nobel Laureate in Physics Riccardo Giacconi John Hopkins University

14 Recruitment Tools High school Recruitment Campus Close-Ups Department Tours Physics Demos/Laser Shows Freshmen Scholarships

15 Assessment Overview A 3-member assessment committee is responsible for the oversight of the department’s assessment activities. All department members participate in the assessment effort at the course level. – An annual meeting dedicated to assessment is required by our bylaws. – Results of assessment are discussed. Action Item(s) identified for the following year

16 Program Goals 1.Understand basic and advanced concepts of classical and modern physics. 2.Understand and be able to use high-level mathematics to solve physics problems. 3.Compete successfully for graduate schools and/or jobs, and perform well therein. 4.Design and conduct experiments, to make careful and accurate measurements using many different kinds of equipment and to correctly analyze and interpret experimental data 5.Use symbolic and numerical computer software to solve physics problems, and to acquire, plot, and analyze data. 6.Effectively communicate (oral and written) using conventional scientific style.

17 Assessment Capstone Course Major Field Test in Physics (ETS) Presentation of material in a paper from the primary literature, to an audience of Physics faculty & students Short write-up (“Ask a Physicist” newspaper- column style) of a physics topic chosen by the students Fermi Questions (process & estimation skills emphasized) Test Math Skills Test designed by faculty in our department

18 Assessment Closing the Feedback Loop Introduced presentations on contemporary topics into sophomore-level physics classes. The Department introduced several new courses (PHY 320: Statics, PHY 334: Circuits, PHY 432: Advanced E & M, and PHY 470: Advanced QM). Based on both direct and indirect measures, the department introduced Computational Physics in a sophomore level lab. Department developed a Capstone Course.

19 Recognition Listed in the Top Ten of The AIP Statistical Research Center, Enrollments and Degrees Annual Report UW System Regents Teaching Excellence Award


21 The UW La Crosse Physics Department receiving the 2004 UW System Regents Teaching Excellence Award From Governor Jim Doyle

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