KU Physics Department Shines in Recent Rankings
August 30, 2013
KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University's physics department has been ranked 5th among all Pennsylvania higher education institutions in the number of bachelor's level physics degrees earned by students in the 2011 - 2012 year (16), out of 53 physics bachelor's degree granting institutions in Pennsylvania. According to the rankings compiled by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), KU joins the Pennsylvania State University (42), Carnegie Mellon University (28), the University of Pittsburgh (23) and the University of Pennsylvania (19) and on the list. Among Non-Ph.D. granting institutions, KU ranks No. 1.
"A strong curriculum, excellent faculty and many opportunities for undergraduates to do research are the hallmarks of KU's physics program," said Dr. Anne Zayaitz, dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
At KU, students majoring in physics can choose one of three different tracks, including astronomy or an engineering physics. In any track, undergraduate research opportunities abound. For example, students on the astronomy track can conduct astronomy and astrophysics research with Dr. Phillip Reed, utilizing KU's research grade telescope, state of the art observatory and digital planetarium. Current research includes continuing NASA Kepler's search for habitable exoplanets, with follow-up observations from the KU Observatory. Undergraduates also have the opportunity to attend conferences and co-author academic publications.
Kutztown University students who choose the engineering physics track benefit from paid and credit internship opportunities secured through partnerships developed by Dr. Paul Quinn, who is working to acquire externship opportunities and on-site visits in the future. Students have interned at a variety of companies and academic institutions, including Deka Batteries and Princeton University. Additionally, industry representatives frequently visit campus to give presentations for physics majors.
Approximately half of KU students who graduate with a degree in physics go on to graduate school, a process facilitated by Dr. Sudarshan Fernando, who helps students prepare for the physics GRE. The department has an excellent placement record, with students attending graduate school at several prestigious institutions, including Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.
"12 years ago we had one degree track and we were graduating one or two students a year," recalled Quinn. "Today, we have three tracks, the only engineering physics track in PASSHE, an internship option, the only research grade telescope in PASSHE, a learning community for physical sciences majors and we're graduating 16 students a year. Our program is theoretically rigorous and all of our labs are taught by professors who are invested in helping students. This recognition by the AIP is only the beginning."