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Effect of COVID-19 on Campus Measured Seismically

What happens seismically when TCNJ learns and works from home due to COVID-19? TCNJ Physics professor Dr. Shannon Graham, in collaboration with Dr. Alan Kafka of Boston College, has observed a dramatic reduction in seismic activity. The image shows the seismic ‘noise’ on campus in blue and the daily average in orange. A clear trend begins on March 14, 2020. An increase in noise late last week is thought to be due to storms and high winds. (Computed with software from Thomas Lecocq @seismotom.)

Updates Regarding Summer and Fall 2020 Registration

Please see these general registration updates regarding Summer and Fall 2020:
1. Maymester, Summer I and Summer II sessions may be online only.
2. If you are a TCNJ student and would like to take a physics course at another institution, please fill out and submit a Course Authorization Form  ( ) to the physics program assistant Erin Chamberlin at
PLEASE NOTE: you must SAVE the form to your computer FIRST before filling it out, then save again after completing before attaching to your e-mail.
3. You do not need this form if the course is listed on NJ Transfer.
4. Note that we will authorize online labs taken at another institution.  This is a temporary waiver.
5.  If you are taking physics at Rutgers, the equivalent courses are 203+205 (for TCNJ Phy 201) and 204+206 (for TCNJ Phy 202)

Fall 2020 Registration Begins on April 7th, 2020

Registration for the Fall 2020 semester begins on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020.  For information on Physics courses and what waitlists are available, please go to  Please contact us at if you have any questions.

Physics Professor Part of New Jersey Sea Grant Award

Physics Professor Part of New Jersey Sea Grant Award

Dr. Nathan Magee, one of the Physics department’s Geophysics professors, is involved in the successful procurement of the New Jersey Sea Grant by Project SEA: Science, Education, and Action.  The grant will provide funding for new NGSS-aligned curriculum over the course of two years, with total funding equaling approximately $140,000.  The project is a collaboration with the TCNJ School of Education, TCNJ School of Science, and the Save Barnegat Bay foundation to design, test, and implement a new Ocean Science curriculum (for late elementary-middle grades) that includes up-to-date pedagogy, modern climate science, and a focus on New Jersey/Mid-Atlantic coastal issues.

Physics Club wins Outstanding Chapter Award from the Society of Physics Students

Physics Club wins Outstanding Chapter Award from the Society of Physics Students

TCNJ’s Physics Club has won the Society of Physics Students Outstanding Chapter Award for the 2018-2019 academic year.  This is the highest level of distinction given to Society of Physics Students chapters and is received by less than 15% of top chapters annually, with just 103 of 829 chapters so honored this year.  Congratulations to the faculty coordinator, Dr. Romulo Ochoa, as well as the students and student officers of the Physics Club for their fantastic work and service in the Physics department!  Please see the below link from the School of Science page for more information:

TCNJ Physics Students Win National Recognition

Physics Department Awarded Prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Professorship

Physics Department Awarded Prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Professorship

The Physics Department has recently been awarded the prestigious Clare Boothe Luce grant, which will allow the department to hire a new woman Physics professor.  Since its first grants in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program has become one of the single most significant sources of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering in higher education in the United States. The College of New Jersey Physics department was one of only two colleges to receive this grant this year, the other being Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.  The search is slated to begin in the Fall 2020 semester.  Please see the below links for more information on this exciting award:

Physics Department Professor Co-Authors Paper on Massive Spiral Galaxies

Physics Department Professor Co-Authors Paper on Massive Spiral Galaxies

One of the Physics department’s newest professors, Dr. Lauranne Lanz, has recently co-authored a paper on massive spiral galaxies with Patrick Ogle of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. This paper was published October 10, 2019 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, and presents new data on the rotation rates of super spirals collected with the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. Additional data were obtained using the 5-meter Hale telescope of the Palomar Observatory, operated by the California Institute of Technology. Data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission was crucial for measuring the galaxy masses in stars and star formation rates.

Referring to the new study, Tom Jarrett of the University of Cape Town, South Africa says, “This work beautifully illustrates the powerful synergy between optical and infrared observations of galaxies, revealing stellar motions with SDSS and SALT spectroscopy, and other stellar properties — notably the stellar mass or ‘backbone’ of the host galaxies — through the WISE mid-infrared imaging.”

Links to the official press release for this paper can be found below:

SALT website

Hubble Telescope Website

TCNJ Wins NSF Grant to Acquire a Spatial Light Modulator System for STEM Research and Education

TCNJ Wins NSF Grant to Acquire a Spatial Light Modulator System for STEM Research and Education

TCNJ’s Physics Department has been awarded a $245,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation program. The funding will bring a new piece of research equipment called a spatial light modulator system to the College.

A spatial light modulator system is a digital optical projector that provides light fields necessary for advanced research that are not otherwise achievable. Although you may not be familiar with a spatial light modulator, the technology is something we all interact with every day; it makes cellphone screens, digital projectors, and flat screen displays possible.

At TCNJ, this new system will be used to enable research and training in interdisciplinary fields including optical materials, bioscience, and human-computer interaction. It will benefit the research programs of 10 faculty members across five different departments, as well as their more than 60 undergraduate research students. The spatial light modulator will allow researchers in materials science to probe light-responsive materials that act as molecular motors. It will be able to selectively illuminate neurons to study their connectivity. Computer scientists will use the equipment to construct augmented reality systems that allow them to develop visual interfaces between computers and their users.

In addition to its usefulness in research, the spatial light modulator will also be used at TCNJ to improve undergraduate STEM education and training. The system will be used in the education of future high school science teachers and in the development of new undergraduate instructional physics laboratories that reflect current technology. Both TCNJ’s NSF-funded Robert Noyce physics teacher training program and the College’s Integrative STEM Education program will benefit from the new instrumentation.

This project is a collaborative effort supporting faculty members and students spanning four of the School of Science’s academic departments and one department in the School of Engineering. The project is led by Dr. David McGee (Physics), who serves as Principal Investigator on the grant, and Co-PI Dr. Tuan Nguyen (Physics). In addition to Drs. McGee and Nguyen, the grant includes 8 other faculty members: Dr. Heba Abourahma (Chemistry), Dr, Sharif Mohammad Shahnewaz Ferdous (Computer Science), Dr. Nathan Magee (Physics), Dr. Stephen O’Brien (Integrative STEM Education and Electrical Engineering), Dr. Romulo Ochoa (Physics), Dr. Andrea Salgian (Computer Science), Dr. Zaara Sarwar (Biology), and Dr. Sejong Yoon (Computer Science). The new equipment acquired through the grant will support the research of these 10 teacher-scholars and the over 60 undergraduate researchers who work with them each year.

For More Information:

TCNJ named among the top 5 producers of physics teachers nationwide

TCNJ named among the top 5 producers of physics teachers nationwide


TCNJ again was named to the Physics Teacher Education Coalition’s “5+ Club,” a select group of institutions that have graduated five or more physics teachers in a given year.

Graduating five or more physics teachers a year is a significant achievement, helping to address the severe national shortage of high school physics teachers.

TCNJ has been named to PhysTEC’s “5+ Club” for three of the past five years. Most colleges and universities graduate fewer than two trained physics teachers a year, and the most common number of graduates is zero, according to PhysTEC, a flagship education program of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

“TCNJ’s Physics Department has a deep commitment to excellence and has distinguished itself as one of the leading undergraduate Physics programs in the United States,” says Jeffrey Osborn, Dean of TCNJ’s School of Science. “Whereas Physics programs across the country have struggled, TCNJ Physics has been purposeful in designing an academic experience that deeply engages all of our students in the field and prepares them exceptionally well for an array of career paths.”

One of the ways TCNJ is able to do this is through a grant from the National Science Foundation that helps fund full tuition scholarship opportunities for juniors and seniors pursuing physics teacher certification through its Robert Noyce Physics Teacher Education Scholarship Program. Seven scholarships are awarded each year to recipients who commit to teach in a high-need school for two years after graduation.

The program provides commitment-free opportunities to try out science teaching as first-year students and sophomores, and allows students to work one-on-one with dedicated faculty mentors doing real science research which they then share with young students. Recipients also receive continuing mentoring in career placement and early-career work.

“The department’s focus on the importance of role models and advocates for students at all levels of the education pipeline has allowed them to strategically build a program that inspires and supports the next generation of high school physics teachers,” says Osborn.

In its 2014 report, the American Association for Employment in Education found that the teacher shortage in physics is No. 1 among 59 education fields. Of the approximately 1,400 new teachers who are hired to teach physics each year, only 35 percent have a degree in physics or physics education.

Other institutions recognized by the PhysTEC 5+ Club for the 2017–18 academic year are:

Brigham Young University (21)
Rutgers University (8)
Virginia Tech (8)
University of Kentucky (8)

More about TCNJ’s Physics Department

TCNJ’s Physics Department is recognized annually by the American Institute of Physics as one of the top producers of physics majors in the United States. The most recent report of the American Institute of Physics ranks TCNJ’s Physics Department in the top 2 percent nationally for physics graduates among 496 non-PhD granting institutions in the U.S., and in the top 8 percent nationally among all 751 PhD and non-PhD granting institutions in U.S.  Moreover, TCNJ’s Physics Department ranks among the top in the nation in the percentage of its graduates who have gone on to complete doctoral degrees, according to the National Science Foundation.

Teacher education represents an important part of the TCNJ Physics Department’s mission as well, and TCNJ is consistently among the national leaders in number of new physics teachers certified to teach at the secondary level. In fact, TCNJ Physics ranks among the top institutions nationally by number of physics teacher certifications among all U.S. college and university physics departments.

The Physics Department has also been working to improve diversity and inclusion within the field of physics.  In particular, TCNJ’s Physics Department was selected by the American Physical Society to host the 2019 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) for the Mid-Atlantic States. Over 300 attendees participated in the three-day conference, including undergraduate physics majors, professional physicists from industry and higher education, corporate and academic leaders, as well as high school students and teachers.

The Physics Department has also been recognized widely at TCNJ, including with the 2018 TCNJ Mildred Dahne Award.  This award is presented annually by the Faculty Senate and recognizes departmental or program excellence.