Physics

Major: Physics
Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 180.0
Co-op Options: Three Co-op (Five years); No Co-op (Four years)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-2012

About the Program

Drexel's undergraduate program provides a solid foundation in physics suitable for graduate study or to branch out into other scientific or technical disciplines. The physics program offers an innovative curriculum in a top-notch learning environment: small class sizes, personal input from faculty, and close interaction with researchers who are leaders in their fields. Students explore the span of universal phenomenon—from the farthest reaches of astrophysics and cosmology, to molecular biophysics and subatomic particle physics— providing a solid foundation for continued study and exploration. Most undergraduates actively participate in research projects, including co-authoring publications and presenting results at conferences.

Virtually every course in the physics major is designed to extend the students' ability to handle real-world problems solved by state-of-the-art techniques. An important feature of the program is the large number of electives, which allow a student to pursue topics of special interest. There are numerous elective courses in areas as diverse as biophysics and cosmology, nanoscience and particle physics. Students can also choose electives to meet teacher certification requirements.
The Laboratory for High-Performance Computational Physics is a venue for students to become proficient in numerical techniques, parallel processing, electronic communication, and the basic computer languages and software relevant to advanced studies and research in physics.

The Department of Physics conducts a broad array of outreach activities including the Kaczmarczik Lecture Series, public observing nights at the Lynch Observatory, and demonstrations in grade school performed by the Drexel Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS).

In addition to the physics major, the Department also offers a minor in physics as well as a minor in astrophysics and a minor in biophysics.

Degree Requirements

Core Physics Requirements
PHYS 105Computational Physics I3.0
PHYS 113Contemporary Physics I5.0
PHYS 114Contemporary Physics II5.0
PHYS 115Contemporary Physics III5.0
PHYS 128Introduction to Experimental Physics3.0
PHYS 217Thermodynamics4.0
PHYS 311Classical Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 317Statistical Mechanics3.0
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
PHYS 322Electromagnetic Fields II4.0
PHYS 326Quantum Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 327Quantum Mechanics II4.0
PHYS 328 [WI] Advanced Laboratory3.0
PHYS 491Senior Research I3.0
PHYS 492Senior Research II3.0
PHYS 493 [WI] Senior Research III3.0
PHYS 408Physics Seminar (To be taken 3 times.)3.0
Method Classes: Complete 12.0 credits from the following *12.0
Complex Variables
Partial Differential Equations
Abstract Algebra I
Elements of Modern Analysis I
Introduction to Scientific Computing
Instrumentation for Scientists I
Instrumentation for Scientists II
Observational Astrophysics
Computational Physics II
Topics in Mathematical Physics
Computational Physics III
Advanced Computational Physics
Subject Courses: Complete 15.0 credits from the following: **15.0
Colloquium II (Special Relativity )
Introductory Astrophysics
Introduction to Relativity
Introduction to Biophysics
Introduction to Nuclear Physics
Classical Mechanics II
Quantum Mechanics III
Galactic Astrophysics
Cosmology
Solid State Physics
Nanoscience
Biophysics
Computational Biophysics
Nonlinear Dynamics
Particle Physics
Math and Technical Requirements
MATH 121Calculus I4.0
MATH 122Calculus II4.0
MATH 200Multivariate Calculus4.0
MATH 201Linear Algebra3.0-4.0
or MATH 261 Linear Algebra
MATH 210Differential Equations4.0
MATH 291Complex and Vector Analysis for Engineers4.0
Sciences
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CHEM 103General Chemistry III (OR Any Bio OR an ENGR class at 200 or higher)5.0
CS 171Computer Programming I3.0
or CS 143 Computer Programming Fundamentals
General Education
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
Liberal electives9.0
Technical elective ***3.0
Business elective4.0
Free electives24.0
Total Credits180.0-181.0
*

At least 6 credits must have a PHYS subject code.

**

Courses at the 400 level and above will also be accepted.

***

 Technical electives can be any course in BIO, CHEM, ENVS, GEO, MATH, PHYS, or any course from the College of Engineering.


Writing-Intensive Course Requirements

In order to graduate, all students must pass three writing-intensive courses after their freshman year. Two writing-intensive courses must be in a student's major. The third can be in any discipline. Students are advised to take one writing-intensive class each year, beginning with the sophomore year, and to avoid “clustering” these courses near the end of their matriculation. Transfer students need to meet with an academic advisor to review the number of writing-intensive courses required to graduate.

A "WI" next to a course in this catalog may indicate that this course can fulfill a writing-intensive requirement. For the most up-to-date list of writing-intensive courses being offered, students should check the Writing Intensive Course List at the University Writing Program. Students scheduling their courses can also conduct a search for courses with the attribute "WI" to bring up a list of all writing-intensive courses available that term.


Sample Plan of Study

Term 1Credits
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
MATH 121Calculus I4.0
PHYS 113Contemporary Physics I5.0
PHYS 128Introduction to Experimental Physics3.0
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 2
CS 143Computer Programming Fundamentals3.0
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
MATH 122Calculus II4.0
PHYS 114Contemporary Physics II5.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 3
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
MATH 200Multivariate Calculus4.0
PHYS 105Computational Physics I3.0
PHYS 115Contemporary Physics III5.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 4
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
MATH 201
or 261
Linear Algebra
Linear Algebra
4.0
MATH 291Complex and Vector Analysis for Engineers4.0
PHYS 217Thermodynamics4.0
 Term Credits15.5
Term 5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
MATH 210Differential Equations4.0
PHYS 311Classical Mechanics I4.0
Subject course*3.0
 Term Credits15.5
Term 6
One of the following:3.0-5.0
General Chemistry III 
Any Biology (BIO) course
 
Any ENGR course 200-level or higher
 
PHYS 326Quantum Mechanics I4.0
Method course*3.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits13.0-15.0
Term 7
PHYS 317Statistical Mechanics3.0
PHYS 327Quantum Mechanics II4.0
Method course3.0
Business elective3.0
Liberal studies elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 8
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
Two Subject courses6.0
Technical elective3.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 9
PHYS 322Electromagnetic Fields II4.0
PHYS 328 [WI] Advanced Laboratory3.0
Method course3.0
Liberal studies elective3.0
Business elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 10
PHYS 408Physics Seminar1.0
PHYS 491Senior Research I3.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers (Recommended only. For students persuing graduate study.)1.0
Subject course3.0
Liberal studies elective3.0
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits14.0
Term 11
PHYS 408Physics Seminar1.0
PHYS 492Senior Research II3.0
Subject course3.0
Free electives6.0
 Term Credits13.0
Term 12
PHYS 408Physics Seminar1.0
PHYS 493 [WI] Senior Research III3.0
Method course3.0
Free electives7.0
 Term Credits14.0
Total Credit: 180.0-182.0
*

 See degree requirements.

Co-op/Career Opportunities

Students who complete a degree in physics have many options. Some enter graduate school with the intention of obtaining a master’s or a PhD. Others attend medical school. Engineering is yet another option, and graduates of an undergraduate physics program can enter this field with an unusually solid background in fundamental physical principles, mathematics, and computation. It is also possible for physics graduates to work in business and finance; for example, Wall Street employs many analysts trained in such “hard sciences” as physics.

Many Drexel physics graduates proceed directly into graduate schools, or medical or other professional programs. Physics graduates have attended some of the best graduate programs in the United States, including Columbia, Harvard, and CalTech. Other graduates have found jobs in engineering and business, and with such government agencies as the National Bureau of Standards.

Visit the Drexel Steinbright Career Development Center for more detailed information on co-op and post-graduate opportunities.

Minor in Physics

About the Minor

Physics is a science that studies the natural phenomena at all scales, from that of the universe to elementary particles. This minor exposes the students to some of the basic principles of physics and would easily complement any other discipline—from engineering to other sciences.

The minor in physics requires a total of 10.0 credits from the elective list in addition to the prerequisite and core courses.

Because of the overlap in requirements between the astrophysics minor and the physics minor, students cannot minor in both.

Required Prerequisite Courses *
Contemporary Physics I
Contemporary Physics II
Contemporary Physics III
Required Courses
PHYS 311Classical Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
PHYS 217Thermodynamics4.0
PHYS 326Quantum Mechanics I4.0
Electives
Select at least 10.0 credits from PHYS courses at the 300 level or above10.0
Total Credits26.0
*

PHYS 101, PHYS 102 and PHYS 201 will also satisfy the prerequisite requirements.

Minor in Astrophysics

About the Minor

Astrophysics brings together many disparate areas of physics—gravitational physics govern the evolution of galaxies and clusters, nuclear physics dominates the cores of stars, electromagnetism governs the radiation that we use to observe these objects. Students majoring in mathematics and computer science, as well as other disciplines, are often fascinated by the questions raised by astrophysics.

Because of the overlap in requirements between the astrophysics minor and the physics minor, students cannot minor in both.

Admission Requirements

Consultation with the Physics Department.

Program Requirements

Required Prerequisite Courses
Contemporary Physics I
and Contemporary Physics II
and Contemporary Physics III
OR
Fundamentals of Physics I
and Fundamentals of Physics II
and Fundamentals of Physics III
Required Courses
PHYS 217Thermodynamics4.0
PHYS 231Introductory Astrophysics3.0
PHYS 232Observational Astrophysics3.0
PHYS 311Classical Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
PHYS 431Galactic Astrophysics3.0
PHYS 432Cosmology3.0
Total Credits24.0


Minor in Biophysics

About the Minor

Biophysics is the study of the complexity of life using tools provided by physics. It attempts to construct mathematical frameworks that explain among many other topics, how organisms obtain energy from the environment, how complex structures appear in the cell and how these relate to function. In essence, biophysics looks for principles that describe observed patterns and propose predictions based on these principles.

Admissions Requirements

Consultation and approval of the program director and completion of one of the prerequisite sequences. Students who have completed the PHYS 152, PHYS 153, PHYS 154 sequence will also be accepted into the minor provided they have an A- average in those courses and have completed MATH 121 and MATH 122.

Program Requirements

Required Pre-requisites
Contemporary Physics I
Contemporary Physics II
Contemporary Physics III
OR
Fundamentals of Physics I
Fundamentals of Physics II
Fundamentals of Physics III
Core Requirements
PHYS 217Thermodynamics3.0-4.0
or CHEM 253 Thermodynamics and Kinetics
or ENGR 210 Introduction to Thermodynamics
PHYS 262Introduction to Biophysics3.0
PHYS 317Statistical Mechanics3.0
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
PHYS 461Biophysics3.0
PHYS 462Computational Biophysics3.0
One course from the following:4.5
Cells and Genetics
Essential Biology
One course from the following:3.0-4.0
Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology I
Principles of Cell Biology
Principles of Molecular Biology
Chemistry of Biomolecules
Total Credits26.5-28.5

Facilities

Astrophysics Facilities:

  • The Numerical Astrophysics Facility emphasizes theoretical and numerical studies of stars, star formation, planetary systems, star clusters, galaxy distributions, cosmological modeling, gravitational lensing, and the early universe. The facility employs a high-performance Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) compute cluster, each node containing two 6-core, 2.7 GHz Intel Xeon CPUs and 96 Gbytes of RAM, accelerated by 4–6 Nvidia Fermi/Titan GPUs, and connected by QDR infiniband, affording computational speeds of up to 50 trillion floating point operations per second.
  • The Joseph R. Lynch Observatory houses a 16-inch Mead Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with an SBIG CCD camera.  Drexel was a member of the original Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration; faculty and students remain active in analyzing data from the SDSS.  Drexel is currently an institutional member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), currently under construction in Chile; faculty and students are developing LSST-related machine learning tools and analyzing simulated LSST data to prepare for "first light" in 2022.

Biophysics Facilities:

  • Bio-manipulation and microscopy laboratories. Four optical tables and six research grade microscopes are configured to perform microscopic spectroscopy and manipulation on solutions and individual cells. A spatial light modulator allows spatial patterns to be encoded on samples and explored; all microscopes are temperature controlled with state of the art cameras, including a 2,000 frame per second high speed system. Each optical table is also equipped with high power lasers for photolysis or fluorescence spectroscopy. Microfluidic attachments are present on one table, and in an adjacent laboratory, a small microfluidic fabrication facility has been established.
  • Experimental biophysics lab for studies of proteins and biomimetic lipids, including a fluorescence spectrometer.
  • The Computational Biophysics facility also includes: (i) a Beowulf cluster with 46 dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU (736 cores) and 12Gb of RAM nodes plus a master with 1Tb of storage and 24Gb of RAM, (ii) a Beowulf cluster with 44 dual-core Xeon CPU (344 cores),(iii) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 24Gb RAM and 3Tb disk with two Tesla C2050 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (iv) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 8Gb RAM and 4Tb disk with an NVIDIA N280 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (v) a quad 8-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 128Gb RAM and 16Tb total disk, (vi) a 72Tb file server with 12Gb RAM, (vii) a 96Tb quad 6-core file server with 64Gb RAM, (viii) and several Linux workstations connected through a gigabit network.

Condensed Matter Facilities:

  • The Ultrafast Electron Diffraction laboratory investigates structural dynamics in nanoscale materials at timescales that are fundamental to materials science and condensed matter physics. The techniques are based on exciting matter with light and probing the response of the lattice with electrons. The research interests of the lab are in a range of phenomena and systems including phase transformations induced by strong laser excitation, phase transformations in strongly correlated systems, generation and detection of coherent lattice vibrations, and characterization of materials properties of graphene, few-layer-graphene, ultra-thin graphite & nanocrystalline diamond.
  • The research at Energy Materials Research Laboratory is devoted to atomic scale investigations of materials for energy. As the size of the system shrinks, conventional bulk thermodynamics becomes irrelevant and we enter the realm of mesoscopic physics. The equilibrium behavior of small systems is governed by the prevailing number of surface atoms that behave differently from the bulk ones. The electronic properties are also subject to reduced number of available electronic states. We take advantage of different scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to elucidate the local electronic properties of materials that are relevant to solving energy problems. The laboratory research is funded by grants from NSF and DOE.
  • The Ultra-low Temperature Laboratory includes a dilution refrigerator, 3He and 4He cryostats and microwave sources to study quantum phenomena in nano and microscale devices, superconducting qubits, nanostructures and quantum fluids and solids.

Particle Physics Facilities:

  • The Drexel particle physics group contributes to neutrino oscillation experiments at different baselines, including the DUNE long baseline experiment hosted by Fermilab, the Double Chooz experiment in France, and the PROSPECT short baseline experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  We are also active in the IceCube neutrino telescope located at the geographic South Pole, the EXO-200 experiment located in NM, and the PICO dark matter experiment located at SNOLAB in Canada.
  • The Bubble Chamber Laboratory develops superheated-liquid detectors for rare-interaction searches.

Laboratory for High-Performance Computational Physics:

  • In addition to the department computing cluster (15 linux workstations), high-performance computing resources include a dual-processor server with two Xeon E5-2650 processors (16 cores), 128 GB of RAM, and two Xeon Phi P5110 co-processor cards (480 cores). Department researchers also have access to a cluster of 18 Dell PowerEdge C6145  servers (AMD Opteron 6378 Piledriver CPU's, 64 cores/server, 256 GB RAM/server) with a total of 1152 cores and 4.5TB RAM.

Physics Faculty

Alexey Aprelev, PhD (St Petersburg State University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Experimental biophysics.
Eric Brewe, PhD (Arizona State University). Associate Professor. Physics Education Research, introductory course reform, network analysis in learning, neuromechanisms of learning.
Luis R. Cruz Cruz, PhD (MIT). Associate Professor. Computational studies of confinement effects on the folding of amyloidogenic proteins, spatial correlations of neurons in the brain, firing dynamics of neuronal networks, fluid flow through porous media.
N. John DiNardo, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Professor. Vibrational and electron dynamics at semiconductor surfaces and interfaces, metal-semiconductor interfaces, polymer surfaces and interfaces, diamond-like carbon thin films, and protein and cell interactions with biomaterials surfaces.
Michelle Dolinski, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Associate Professor. Neutrino physics, rare nuclear decays, cryogenic detector technologies.
Frank A. Ferrone, PhD (Princeton University). Professor. Experimental and theoretical protein dynamics, kinetics of biological self-assembly, including sickle cell and Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell testing and diagnostic devices.
David M. Goldberg, PhD (Princeton University) Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies. Professor. Theoretical and computational cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics, gravitational lensing.
Maher Harb, PhD (University of Toronto). Assistant Professor. Solid state physics, ultrafast electron diffraction, time-resolved X-ray diffraction, ultrafast lasers, nanofabrication, nano/microfluidics, instrument development, vacuum technologies.
Goran Karapetrov, PhD (Oregon State University). Associate Professor. Experimental solid state physics, scanning probe microscopy, nanoscale catalysis, mesoscopic superconductivity.
Rachael M. Kratzer, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei
Charles Lane, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor. Experimental tests of invariance principles and conservation laws, neutrino oscillations and properties.
Teck-Kah Lim, PhD (University of Adelaide). Professor. Structures and dynamics of small nuclear and molecular systems, spin-polarized quantum systems, physics in two dimensions. Physics education.
Christina Love, PhD (Temple University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Educational methods and technology, STEM education, science literacy and outreach, particle physics, astrophysics.
Stephen L. W. McMillan, PhD (Harvard University) Department Head. Professor. Stellar dynamics, large-scale computations of stellar systems, and high-performance special-purpose computers.
Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Assistant Professor. Neutrino physics, high energy astro-particle physics.
Russell Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Assistant Professor. Dark matter, neutrino physics.
Gordon Richards, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei, supermassive black holes, galaxy evolution, sky surveys, infrared/X-ray/radio astronomy
Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD (Columbia University) Associate Dean, College of Engineering, Director, Centralized Research Facilities. Professor. Light-matter interactions in electronic materials, including ferroelectric semiconductors, complex oxide thin film science; laser spectroscopy, including Raman scattering.
Richard I Steinberg, PhD (Yale University). Professor. Neutrino physics.
Somdev Tyagi, PhD (Brigham Young University) Associate Head of Non-Major Studies in Physics. Professor. Nanobiophysics, Raman spectroscopy, magnetic materials.
Brigita Urbanc, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia). Associate Professor. Computational and experimental biophysics of protein folding and assembly, relevant to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease; discrete molecular dynamics of coarse-grained protein and lipid models.
Michael Vogeley, PhD (Harvard University) Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. Professor. Cosmology; galaxy formation and evolution; statistical analysis of large data sets; active galactic nuclei.
Jian-Min Yuan, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor. Protein folding, signal transduction pathways, computational biophysics, nonlinear dynamics and chaos in atomic and molecular systems, protein folding.

Emeritus Faculty

Shyamalendu Bose, PhD (University of Maryland). Provost Emeritus.
Leonard D. Cohen, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emeritus.
Leonard X. Finegold, PhD (University of London). Professor Emeritus.
Robert Gilmore, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Richard D. Haracz, PhD (Wayne State University). Professor Emeritus.
Frederick House, PhD (University of Wisconsin). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur P. Joblin, PhD (Drexel University). Professor Emeritus.
Donald C. Larson, PhD (Harvard University). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur E. Lord, PhD (Columbia University). Professor Emeritus.
James McCray, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Michel Vallières, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emeritus. Shell-model and mean field studies of nuclei on and off beta-stability, chaotic scattering, computational physics.
T. S. Venkataraman, PhD (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Professor Emeritus.
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