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Lebanon Valley College Physics students conduct summer research

About Physics at LVC

Physics is the most fundamental science, combining the excitement of theoretical and experimental discovery with the beauty of mathematics.

At LVC, you will explore and learn the fundamental laws of nature and properties of matter, while gaining critical thinking, writing, computational, and analytical skills employers seek. You’ll gain a hands-on education by working closely with professors in the laboratory, conducting independent study projects, or participating in student-faculty research. Our professors provide paid research opportunities in Quantum Information Theory, Laser Modifications of Glass, and Computational Nuclear Physics. There are also opportunities to conduct paid student-faculty research before starting your first year through our Research First Program. These experiences can provide excellent preparation for any career path.

Our majors pursue careers as industrial physicists, engineers, health/medical physicists, research physicists in academia, high school teachers, technical writers, financial/quantitative analysts, software developers, and more. Learn about our alumni highlights and achievements.

According to the American Physical Society, approximately 11.5 million people were employed by U.S. physics-based companies in 2016, and about 70,000 physicists joined the industry from 2003–2016, or about 58% of all physics graduates. For this reason, at LVC we offer an Industrial Physics concentration, which is intended for students who seek employment at companies or laboratories that value additional experimental/instrumental expertise.

We also offer a Computational Physics concentration, intended for students who would like to develop advanced computational skills that can be applied to pursuing a graduate degree or working for companies that value a scientific programming background. A 2016 report from the American Association of Physics Teachers found that computational physics skills are highly valued by research, industry, and many other employment sectors.

LVC offers a 3+2 Engineering Program where students can earn a physics degree from LVC (three years) and an engineering degree from Penn State University-University Park or Case Western Reserve University (two years).

Students interested in teaching at the high school level can complete the physics major with a secondary education certification.

No matter what career path you choose, students will be mentored, advised, and supported by our faculty along the way.

Why Physics at LVC?

  • By studying physics at LVC, you'll explore and learn the fundamental laws of nature: motion, force, energy, heat, light, electricity, magnetism, atomic and nuclear structure, and the properties of matter.
  • Receive a hands-on education by working closely with professors on independent study projects or as a paid research assistant. Research is a central aspect of the physics major and is supported by departmental funds and external grants.
  • Flexible degree requirements make it possible to study abroad and pursue professional internships.
  • LVC physics majors can earn a B.S. in physics and B.S. in engineering in just five years through the College’s 3+2 Engineering Program (in partnership with Penn State University or Case Western Reserve University).
  • Secondary education teacher certification in physics is available to students who complete the physics major and a complement of courses offered through LVC’s Education Department.

Student-Faculty Research

Quantum Information Theory

Dr. David Lyons, mathematical sciences, and Dr. Scott Walck, physics, work with students to study the ways in which the "quantum advantage" of systems of entangled particles can perform computing and communications tasks that outperform the most powerful existing supercomputers.

Laser Modifications of Glass

Dr. Keith Veenhuizen, physics and engineering, conducts student-faculty research to fabricate crystals in glass using a laser as a heat source. Light can be guided through the crystals, making them potentially useful as optical interconnects in photonic integrated circuits. Also, the crystals are characterized by various means (Raman spectroscopy, piezoresponse force microscopy, etc.) to gather information for practical applications and more fundamental studies.

Computational Nuclear Physics

Dr. Daniel Pitonyak, physics, conducts student-faculty research to map out 3D images of the internal structure of visible matter. Students write code in Python to compute high-energy particle collisions and analyze how models fit experimental data. This enables researchers to extract information on the elementary particles that make up objects like the proton.

Because of what I learned at LVC, I wasn’t afraid to study something new and jump in to figure it out during my NSF-funded internship at CERN in Switzerland. It was an amazing experience to talk with students from other countries about how they acquire knowledge.

Physics and mathematics, Allwein Scholar. PhD Student at College of William & Mary

Justin Cammarota '19