This week I entered the realm of protons, electrons, and neutrons by visiting the department of chemistry and physics. The last time I ventured this far into the realm of science I was lucky to make it out with a C. Fortunately, this time I was learning more about the department and less about the subject matter.
The department is broken down by the two subjects, chemistry and physics. The chemistry program offers degrees in four different areas: environmental, industrial chemistry, the traditional track, and a degree with ACS (American Chemical Society) certification.
The environmental program is designed to show students environmental issues coming from a chemistry prospective. However, students are not just limited to the chemistry angle.
According to Dr. Cynthia Atterholt, professor of chemistry, students also get a broader focus in environmental issues. Students take classes in different disciplines such as environmental health, biology, and geology.
The industrial chemistry program is designed for those who have an interest in industrial chemistry. This track also prepares students to deal with the business side of industry technology and gives them an understanding of business.
The traditional track offers students the standard chemistry courses and prepares students for a multitude of careers and professional degrees. The traditional track is most often selected by students who enter the program.
The last program offered in chemistry is the degree with ACS certification. This track tends to be more rigorous because students are in a certified program.
In addition to the variety of tracks that are offered, the department also has state-of-the-art equipment. Atterholt said, “It gives students a lot of hands-on experience.”
The other half of this department is physics. The department offers five programs in physics: health, engineering, professional, environmental, and management physics.
The health physics track is designed for those who would like to go to medical school and want a strong background in science. According to Dr. Kurt Vandervoort, professor of physics, the program is designed to give you a physics degree with a background in chemistry and biology.
In addition to the applicability to medical school, graduates can pursue a career as a health physicist. Health physicists work in areas like cancer treatment.
The engineering track might be an obvious fit with the physics program because of the relationship between physics and engineering. The professional physics track is designed for those who are planning to continue their education in a graduate or professional degree program. This track gives students a strong background in physics.
The environmental track prepares student for careers in areas like geo-physics. Environmental physics also deals with the issue of alternative energy sources such as fuel cells in cars and solar power.
The last track is the management physics track, which gives students a better understanding of the busness sense with a strong physics background.
Both Atterholt and Vandervoort stated that there is a lot of undergraduate student involvement in research.
Vandervoort said, “about half of physics graduates have been co-authors of published research.”
This department has a great deal to offer students who are interested in the field of science. They offer a variety of programs between the two disciplines.
If you are interested in the department of chemistry and physics, contact the department at 227-7260 or stop by their office, room 231 in the Natural Science Building.