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  • Department of Physics
    1845 E Northgate Dr
    Irving, TX 75062
    Phone: 972-721-5072
    Fax: 972-721-5052

    hicks@udallas.edu

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Success Stories


 I graduated from UD in 2010 with a BS in Physics and a concentration in Applied Mathematics. I'm currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. I'm also the owner of a fledgling private equity firm and a small photography business. UD was a great school for me, and I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn't have come as far as I have without the formation received there. Perhaps you might be reading this and are wondering how a physicist is able to deal with the engineering world--can a Physics degree be used to pursue this career path? After my sophomore and junior year, I worked for the electrical engineering division of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, TX. There, I worked on a multitude of projects, none of which were thematically related to any of the study I had accomplished in the physics world. I designed a weather balloon flight prediction model, a remotely operated GPS antenna, and also figured out how to intercept and decrypt the Iridium satellite network down/uplink signal. However, even though these projects were not related, per se, to my chose field of study, I was still easily able to complete them. You see, engineering is a field in which one conceives design solutions to problems. Success comes not from specific skills within a particular field of engineering, but from the ability to figure out a solution to a problem. This "figuring out" ability is what physicists learn best, as they are constantly attempting to crack some of the most difficult problems ever devised. We are paid problem solvers--and I've chosen to apply my problem solving ability to the profession of engineering.

Another advantage of a UD education is the requirement of literacy. Having left "the Bubble" and moved to a state school, the differences in general ability are astounding. Those in the sciences are generally incapable of composing a single sentence properly, let alone an entire paragraph or essay. This ability gap between myself and my colleagues resulted in my being asked to teach(not assist) a few of the courses in the undergraduate sequence. There were many other grad students far more qualified for such a task, but it was delegated to me thanks to my ability to communicate ideas more clearly than my peers. You might hate the necessity of attending insufferable English and Philosophy classes, writing dull essays, and being forced to read indomitable books from centuries of yore--but it will pay off in GOLD at the end. You will be a liberally educated scientist--able to communicate as well as the most lucid English major, and yet still be capable of solving a few differential equations here and there.

The best part of all this is that this isn't the only highlight--UD has small class sizes(you actually know your classmates, and your professor knows you), the Rome program(cliche, but still....amazing), fellow Catholics, a small campus(at Tech I teach classes back to back and have to bike 1.5 miles between the rooms), and the closest friends you'll ever have. An education at UD is never regretted, especially by those in the sciences. You get the same technical education you'd receive at any run of the mill college, and then receive the liberal arts tools to put that education to better use.

And a special thank you to my teachers, for I certainly wouldn't have learned anything it if hadn't been for the exceptional tutelage of Dr. Hicks and Dr. Olenick. I am proud to call them my friends.


After graduating with a B.S. in Physics from the University of Dallas in 2002, I attended UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to study medical physics. My thesis work at MD Anderson involved developing a dosimetry audit system for proton therapy clinics wishing to participate in NCI clinical trials. I graduated in December of 2005 with a master’s degree. Currently, I am working as a medical physicist in Manhattan at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As a medical physicist, I plan photon and electron radiation treatments for cancer patients and perform quality assurance on the linear accelerators that deliver the radiation to ensure that treatments are safely and accurately delivered. It’s a challenging but extremely rewarding job.

Shortly after I moved to the city, I met my husband here. So Manhattan will always be one of my favorite places. One of the most amazing things about living in Manhattan is the diverse culture –the people, the food, the arts, and of course, Central Park.  It truly is a concrete jungle that never sleeps.


J.C. graduated with a B.S. in Physics from the University of Dallas in 2002. He is presently a high school teacher at Prosper High School, north of Dallas. He chose the teaching profession after leaving UD and went through the Texas Region X Education Service Center Teacher Alternative Certification Program, and became certified in 8-12 grade Physical Science (Physics and Chemistry). J.C. is currently serving as the science department chair and teaches PreAP (Honors) Physics I and Calculus-Based AP Physics II. He also coaches the school’s Academic Decathlon team as well as the UIL Science competition team. He has been teaching physics for 10 years with no plans to change his field in the immediate future. Outside of his work he enjoys gardening and home-improvement projects. Currently he is working on several writing projects including a science-fiction novel and a possible foray into the creation of an open source, interactive physics curriculum/e-textbook for tablet computers.

J.C. offers a few thoughts for  prospective physics major at UD:

The University of Dallas provides an environment where highly competent professors are actually excited to teach the courses you will be taking. This particular element of the curriculum provides an invaluable resource not widely seen at many larger schools. I found the science program to be home to the most zany, spirited, educated and fun group of individuals on campus and that statement includes professors and students alike!

Regarding physics specifically, a B.S. in physics at UD is second to none and in my experience, easily comparable to the physics offerings at many other colleges and universities. This is due, in no small part, to the exceptional faculty and resources the department provides. In addition, it is significant to note that all of the physics faculty are active in teaching and research, both theoretical and experimental. The opportunity to engage in meaningful research with your own professors is a challenging and rewarding experience, one that would be out of reach at many schools.

 Speaking as a high school teacher for Advanced Placement physics, I come into frequent contact with the expectations of physics programs both in Texas and around the nation. Given the high departmental expectations at UD, the small average class sizes and the in-house research opportunities, I believe that UD’s physics program offers similar if not better undergraduate preparation than many colleges can offer. A physics degree at UD will prepare you for graduate studies, or to proceed directly into industry or education.   J.C.'s Homepage.


I graduated from UD with a B.S. in Physics and an Applied Math Concentration in 2004. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2010 and am now an Associate Research Physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton University.  At Chicago I studied high energy gamma-ray and cosmic-ray physics under the direction of Simon Swordy and Scott Wakeley. The two experients I work on are the Very Energetic Radiation IMaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) and the TRack Imaging Cerenkov Experiment (TRICE). VERITAS is an array of 4 12-m telescopes that images Cerenkov radiation from electromagnetic cascades produced by gamma rays as they impact the atmosphere. In very high energy gamma-ray astrophysics we are searching to determine the sources of high energy particle acceleration, such as super nova remnants, active galactic nuclei, blazars and dark matter. Particularly at higher energies, the origins of cosmic rays still remain an open question. TRICE also searchs for such sources by detecting Cerenkov radiation produced in the atmosphere from high energy charged particles. Using such information we can characterize the elemental composition of cosmic rays from both galactic and extragalactic sources.

While at UD I attended a summer course in Bamberg, Germany in which I studied German language, literature and culture. I also participated in three Research for Undergraduates (REUs) in which I worked for scientists at various institutions. These were valuable experiences in that I was able to investigate different areas of current physics research.

The University of Dallas Physics Department is unique in that the small class sizes and dedicated professors encourage an atmosphere of investigation in physics. I was able to develop a personal relationship with my professors, something which helped aspire to a career in academia.


After graduating from the University of Dallas with a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics in May 2008, I went to Switzerland on a Fulbright Scholarship in order to conduct research at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research). While there, I did research with the testing and development of edgeless silicon detectors for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) TOTEM project. In fall (2009), I will begin my study towards a Ph.D. in High Energy Physics at Harvard University working on the LHC and looking for evidence of new physics such as Supersymmetry.

While an undergraduate at the University of Dallas, I worked at Texas A&M University for a summer doing research in quantum optics. In addition, I participated in an REU hosted by the University of Michigan which took me to CERN for a summer. Both were fabulous experiences which really helped me explore physics and hone my interests. Furthermore, the University of Dallas coursework prepared me to conduct research and enter graduate school. Ultimately, however, it was the friendships I formed with my professors and the advice and support which they gave me which truly set the University of Dallas apart from the many other places where one could pursue an undergraduate degree in physics. This one-on-one support gave me a leg up and a strong advantage in this challenging and competitive field. I am both lucky and proud to have graduated from UD.


Brenda Martin graduated from UD in 2001 with a B.S. in Physics. She currently works as an optical engineer at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO and has started taking graduate courses in optics at the University of Arizona.

As an optical engineer Brenda analyzes designs and conducts trade studies between designs. She makes sure light gets from the front end of satellites to the other end. Most of the analyses are done with optical design softward. She also writes a LOT! Everything she does has to be well documented. The quantity of writing required was her big shock regarding the engineering field. Brenda says, "I think that one of the things that UD has helped me with the most is the writing. Most engineers don't write very well. Since UD requires so many non-science classes, even for science majors, your writing skills are developed, whether you want them to be or not."

One of the things Brenda liked most about UD was the Rome program. "I know this is stressed a LOT in the recruiting information, however it really is a great experience. It's not something many people get to do. Also, the class/department size of UD is a huge asset. From freshman year, the professors know who you are and are very willing to help you in any way they can."


Genevieve is in Haslett, MI, working at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory on the Michigan State University campus (East Lansing). She has not yet earned a degree past her physics BS/music concentration, but this fall she will start taking classes at MSU. Genevieve is currently a cyclotron operator; she sets up the cyclotrons for experiments (there are two, currently in series) and monitors the facility while experiments are running (there is an operator on duty 24/7), and the operations department is responsible for the cyclotrons themselves during maintenance periods. It's really a fascinating job; operations overlaps a little with each of the other departments, so she has a chance to get involved with everything from cryogenics and vacuum to electronics and the RF system. It sounds fairly impressive, but she admits that, "I'm really a cross between a lab tech and a mechanic!" National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory .


After leaving UD with a B.S. in Physics in 1997, I obtained an M.S. in Geophysics from The Penn State University (PSU). While at PSU I was involved in two extended trips to Antarctica working on a mix of glaciology and seismology (photo-lower left). These trips came before I knew much seismology but were possible because of a solid background in physics which I got as an undergrad at UD.

After working several years at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Peter returned to Penn State University where he currently is part of the Penn State Ice and Climate (PSICE) research team.  In his works, 'I'm here to help get things together for the science guys to study- that means computers, logistics, all the odds and ends. '  Peter's Homepage.


Upon graduating from UD, I went to Washington University in St. Louis to pursue a PhD in physics. I was there for five years, and specialized in theoretical high energy particle physics (specifically a field called Lattice Gauge Theory, which is just a fancy name for "particle physics on a computer"). In May of 2004 I received my PhD and then moved on to Columbia University as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Theory group there. This is currently where I am, for at least three years (well, two more from now). Being in this field has allowed me to travel all over the place, mostly Europe (Germany, Ireland, Scotland), Japan (Tokyo and various other towns), and the US and Canada

Chris is currently an Assistant Professor at Fordham University in New York where in addition to teaching he does research in theoretical hadronic and particle physics, mainly performing large scale numerical simulations at various supercomputer centers around the country.   Chris's Homepage.


Hours spent working theoretical mechanics and electromagnetic theory problems together can sometimes lead to long term relationships. Such is the case with Joshua Nelson and Beth Sklaney who were married in June of 2005.

Josh graduated with a B.A. in physics in 1999. He then obtained a law degree form Boston College and is currently working for McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP (Law Firm) in Irvine, California, USA. His specialty is patent law, and he has been admitted to the US Patent Bar and has drafted several US Patent applications.

Beth and Josh both have special memories of their years at UD, because you can "Meet your spouse in the physics department!"

Beth graduated with B.S. in Physics (magna cum laude) in 1999 and attended graduate school at Syracuse University where she obtained an M.S. in Physics. She currently works as a staff engineer doing compact device modeling for IBM in Irvine, California.

While at UD, Beth went to the PSI in Villigen, Switzerland to study the Te nuclei. While at Syracuse University she worked on a couple of research projects, which included (I) Experimental Condensed Matter Group: Built and tested dye sensitized solar cells, and (II) Experimental High Energy Group: Programmed in C++ to access RICH data and report where maximum number of hits.


Any graduate of the UD Physics Department is welcome to submit a profile to Dr. Sally Hicks at hicks@udallas.edu.


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

petermcdonough

Peter McDonough -2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clairenerbun

Claire Nerbun Gillick -2002

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

jcvlarray

John. C. Boehringer - 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  stephaniewissel

Stephanie Wissel - 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Will Spearman

Will Spearman - 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Brenda Martin

Brenda Martin - 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genevieve Wing

Genevieve Wing - 2001

 

 

 

 

Peter Burkett

Peter Burkett - 1997

 

 

 

  

Chris Aubin

Chris Aubin - 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Sklaney and Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson and Beth Sklaney - 1999

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