As the fourth generation of her family to attend Ripon College, Julia made the most of her time on campus, majoring in chemistry and physics with a minor in mathematics.

“For me, being a Legacy student is something I’m proud of, although not the main reason I chose Ripon. I came to Ripon because I had the chance to meet some of the professors, and between the community and the professors’ willingness to challenge us as students, I was excited to come.”

Julia is continuing her education with the goal to achieve a doctorate in materials science and engineering.

Julia Goeks '21, Graduate Student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

14:1

AVG STUDENT:FACULTY RATIO

78%

OF RECENT GRADS OPTED TO DO A SUMMER RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

Department Mission Statement

Thomas Poullette '21 in Physics Lab at Ripon College

The Ripon College Department of Physics engages students in the understanding of the physical world and enhances students’ awareness of the critical role of physics in modern society. The department equips students to identify and effectively implement the scientific method, critically analyze scientific arguments, identify and solve analytic problems, synthesize complex information and communicate effectively both orally and in writing through the study of physical phenomena.
Icon for: At a Glance
Interact with, measure and explain systems in the universe from subatomic particles to galactic clusters by working together in the classroom and the lab to answer questions posed by nature. Learn to apply the principles of physics to concerns of society, coming to an appreciation of the beauty and subtlety of the universe.
Physics majors also have the opportunity to participate in the 3-2 Dual-Degree program, an accelerated degree option for engineering.
Pre-Engineering

At a Glance

Interact with, measure and explain systems in the universe from subatomic particles to galactic clusters by working together in the classroom and the lab to answer questions posed by nature. Learn to apply the principles of physics to concerns of society, coming to an appreciation of the beauty and subtlety of the universe.

Physics majors also have the opportunity to participate in the 3-2 Dual-Degree program, an accelerated degree option for engineering.

Icon for: Expect to Experience


 	Hands-on research in advanced labs, using ultrafast lasers, transmission electron microscopes, optical spectroscopy techniques and other state-of-the-art equipment
 	One-on-one research opportunities with Ripon physics faculty, often resulting in publication
 	Opportunities to be active in local, regional and national organizations, including: Society of Physics Students, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, WAAPT, Sigma Pi Sigma and the Rocketry Team

Expect to Experience

  • Hands-on research in advanced labs, using ultrafast lasers, transmission electron microscopes, optical spectroscopy techniques and other state-of-the-art equipment
  • One-on-one research opportunities with Ripon physics faculty, often resulting in publication
  • Opportunities to be active in local, regional and national organizations, including: Society of Physics Students, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, WAAPT, Sigma Pi Sigma and the Rocketry Team
Icon for: Leave Empowered To
Students who complete the physics program graduate with the skills necessary to:


 	Pursue technical jobs which require problem-solving and analytical skills
 	Pursue continued education in elite graduate programs across the country
 	Utilize expert mathematical abilities, experimental techniques and communication in a multitude of professional settings
 	Discover interesting problems to solve and the know-how to do so

Leave Empowered To

Students who complete the physics program graduate with the skills necessary to:

  • Pursue technical jobs which require problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Pursue continued education in elite graduate programs across the country
  • Utilize expert mathematical abilities, experimental techniques and communication in a multitude of professional settings
  • Discover interesting problems to solve and the know-how to do so

Latest News

Larry Huebner '83

Larry Huebner ’83 receives two major NASA awards

Two awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been received by Larry Huebner ’83 of Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Huebner joined NASA […]

Brant Vande Kolk '12

Bryant Vande Kolk ’12 will present alumni talks today, Friday

Bryant Vande Kolk ’12 of Ellicott City, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., will be a guest speaker today. His talk will begin at 7 p.m. in […]

Raymond Burkert Sawyer '21

Raymond Burkert Sawyer, Class of 1921, referenced in oral history interview

An Oral History Interview with Raymond Sawyer, professor emeritus of physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has been published by the American […]

Faculty

Brett Barwick

Barwick, Brett

Associate Professor of Physics, Harrison E. Farnsworth 1918 Endowed Chair in Physics

Christina Othon Portrait

Othon, Christina

Associate Professor of Physics

Advising

Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Likewise, Mentors in the Franzen Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon

Requirements

Emily Tetzlaff in Laser LabFeatured Course: PHY 441 Experimental Laser Optics

A project-oriented laboratory course in laser optics. Students will complete a variety of experiments chosen from areas such as geometrical optics, diffraction, holography, interferometry, fiber optics, ultrafast lasers, non-linear optics and quantum optics.

 

Physics Program Requirements
Requirements for a Major

  • PHY 131 General Physics 1: Mechanics
  • PHY 172 General Physics II: Electricity, Magnetism and Waves
  • PHY 251 General Physics III: Modern Physics, Optics and Thermodynamics
  • PHY 330 Advanced Mechanics
  • PHY 340 Electricity and Magnetism
  • 2 semesters of physics senior seminar (PHY 501, 502)
  • 8 additional credits in courses numbered above 300 (excluding 401), with four of those credits from an experimental or laboratory course

In senior seminar, students will complete a substantial research project that culminates in a written thesis as well as a seminar presentation. Students majoring in Physics may not major in Physical Science.

**Students interested in physics or physical science education must major in secondary education and may choose physics as their major or minor as part of their broadfield science certification.
**Students seeking to participate in a 3-2 Dual-Degree program in engineering with a major in physics must fulfill the requirements for the major and additionally must complete MTH 206 Multiple Variable Calculus, MTH 343 Differential Equations, CSC 101 Introduction to Programming and CHM 111 Organic Chemistry I (or CHM 112 Structure and Reactivity) to be eligible for the program.
Requirements for a Minor 22 credits in Physics

  • PHY 131 General Physics I: Mechanics
  • PHY 172 General Physics II: Electricity, Magnetism and Waves
  • PHY 251 General Physics III: Modern Physics, Optics and Thermodynamics
  • 8 additional credits in Physics courses numbered above 300 are required, with at least 4 credits coming from a non-experimental/non-laboratory course.

Cross-listed courses cannot count toward the Physics minor. Students majoring in Chemistry, which requires PHY 131 and PHY 172, can still count those credits toward the Physics minor.

**Note: students interested in Broadfield Sciences licensure with an emphasis in physics should refer to the information on physical science.

Career Tracks

Our graduates pursue everything from industrial research and teaching to technical writing and aeronautical engineering. Paths of graduates have included graduate school programs in math, engineering, physics and education at schools such as the University of Notre Dame, California University-Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Unique Opportunities

Ripon College is here to provide unique experiences that will enhance your studies.

Students with Professor Barwick in Physics Lab at Ripon College

Collaborative Research Opportunities

Research opportunities and internships, in collaboration with Ripon College professors, in areas such as soft condensed matter, biophysics, electron-photon interactions and much more. Paid summer internships are available through our Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR) Program, and often this collaborative work is published.

Explore the Othon Lab and Barwick Lab for current research information.

Red Hawks Rocketry Team

Forge Your Own Path

Independent study in physics offers students the opportunity to receive college credit for work on individual projects. These projects may be research collaborations with faculty or problems of particular interest to the student. Outside support is available for some areas of study. For example, the NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Scholarship Program provides support for qualified students taking part in aerospace studies.

Ripon College student works with rotifers in Farr Hall of Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Oak Ridge Science Semester enables students to join ongoing investigations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in research areas as diverse as astrophysics, cell biology, DNA sequencing, genetic mutagenesis, parallel computing, robotics, toxicology and more.


Facilities

Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, exterior view of the building

Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, exterior view of the building Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, interior view of the lobby

Ripon College Science Center Coming Fall 2024!

Breaking ground in spring of 2023, the Ripon College Science Center is a complete renovation of Farr Hall including 19,000 square feet of new construction featuring new laboratory, classroom and collaboration spaces throughout. The space, originally built in 1961, is designed to meet the STEM learning needs of science students today and with the flexibility to adapt to needs in the future. Click here to learn more about Ripon's ongoing investment in our campus.

Outside entrance to Farr Hall of Science on Ripon College's campus Students working collaboratively in Farr Hall of Science classroom at Ripon College Brett Barwick, Lydia Wiley Deal and Garrett Radtke in Physics Lab in Farr Hall

Farr Hall of Science

Home to the science department, Farr Hall contains classrooms, labs, faculty offices, Bear Auditorium and a greenhouse. Labs are dedicated to topics such as astronomy, biophysics, bio materials, electrostatics, laser optics, magnetostatics, quantum optics, thermodynamics and more.