Meet the Physics Department

Dr. Bernard Bates

Professor Bates received his Bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his Master’s and PhD from the University of Washington.  His area of expertise is astronomy, and he teaches courses in astrophysics and astronomy as well as introductory general physics.  Professor Bates has been teaching at Puget Sound since 1988.

 

bates@pugetsound.edu
Website

Dr. Greg Elliott (Chair)

Professor Elliott holds Bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from UC Santa Barbara and received his Master’s and PhD in physics from UC San Diego. Recently, he has been teaching courses in quantum mechanics, modern physics, electronics, and general physics for non-majors. His current experimental research focuses on the production and detection of beams of metastable helium atoms, and his theoretical studies focus on Lie symmetry group methods for solving differential equations.  Professor Elliott has been teaching at Puget Sound since 1993.

gelliott@pugetsound.edu
Website

Dr. James Evans

Professor Evans earned his Bachelor’s degree at Purdue University and his PhD at the University of Washington. The courses he teaches concern the relationship between science and society as well as the history of physics and astronomy.  He has written several books and numerous articles on the history of astronomy.  He also serves as the director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Puget Sound.  Professor Evans was named Washington State Professor of the Year in 2008.

jcevans@pugetsound.edu
Website

Dr. David Latimer

Professor David Latimer holds Bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physics from Vanderbilt University and received his Master's and DPhil in mathematical physics from the University of Oxford. His recent teaching efforts have been directed toward introductory physics and electricity & magnetism. In the past, he has also taught courses in quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and general relativity. His research interests primarily lie in nuclear and particle theory with an emphasis upon neutrino phenomenology. Recently, he has been investigating novel ways to assess the particle properties of dark matter. Professor Latimer has been teaching at Puget Sound since 2012.

dlatimer@pugetsound.edu

Dr. Andrew Rex

Professor Rex holds a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and the PhD from the University of Virginia.  He teaches courses in general physics, statistical mechanics, and the history of physics.  Professor Rex has carried out research on the foundations of the second law of thermodynamics and has written textbooks for several different physics courses.  He is also the director of the Honors Program at Puget Sound.  Professor Rex has been at Puget Sound since 1982.  In his free time, he likes to keep active by running and playing golf.

rex@pugetsound.edu
Website

Dr. Amy VanEngen Spivey

Professor Spivey holds a Bachelor’s degree from Westmont College and the Master’s and PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  She has recently been teaching courses in introductory physics, electricity & magnetism, circuits & electronics, and a freshman seminar on energy and electrical power.  Dr. Spivey’s research expertise is in experimental optical and semiconductor physics, and her current projects involve using white light interferometry to study the optical properties of dyes and other particles in solution.  She has been at Puget Sound since 2005.   

aspivey@pugetsound.edu  
Website

 

Dr. Tsunefumi Tanaka

Professor Tanaka holds a Bachelor’s degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Master’s and PhD from Montana State University.  His research interests include quantum field theory in space-time’s nontrivial topology, gravitation, and mathematical physics.  He also develops laboratory experiments, hands-on activities, and lecture demonstrations for introductory physics and astronomy courses.  On clear nights he can often be found in the observatory showing stars and planets to students with the telescope.

ttanaka@pugetsound.edu

Dr. Rand Worland

Professor Worland holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from UCLA and a PhD in physics from UC Santa Barbara.  He teaches introductory physics and electricity and magnetism courses for physics majors as well as courses for non-majors such as Light and Color and the Physics of Music.  His scholarly work involves the use of lasers and optical techniques to study musical acoustics and vibrations in a variety of percussion instruments.  For example, he recently published an article entitled “Musical acoustics of orchestral water crotales” in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.  Professor Worland has been at Puget Sound since 1990.

worland@pugetsound.edu
Website

Staff

 

Marcus Legros

Physics Technician

mlegros@pugetsound.edu

Neva Topolski

Department Coordinator

ntopolski@pugetsound.edu

Emeritus Faculty


Professor Alan Thorndike

Professor Thorndike earned his Bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University and his PhD at the University of Washington.  His teaching interests included courses in general physics, analytical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and climate modeling.  Over the years, Professor Thorndike made a number of contributions to scientists’ understanding of the role of sea ice in the climate system.  He is also a skilled machinist and craftsman. Since his retirement he and his wife moved to Maryland to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

Professor Thorndike taught at Puget Sound from 1983-2012.

Professor Fred Slee

Professor Slee earned his Bachelor’s degree (in 1959) and his PhD (in 1966) at the University of Washington.   His research interests were in nuclear physics and electronics.  Professor Slee taught physics at Puget Sound from 1966 to 2002, during which time he developed both a two-semester course sequence in analog and digital electronics and the Physics of Music course.  Since his retirement, he has enjoyed living in Seattle.

 

 

(Photo from Tamanawas 1983-1984)

Professor Jim Clifford

Professor Clifford earned his Bachelor’s degree (in 1963) and PhD (1970) at the University of New Mexico.  His research interests were in physical chemistry and quantum theory.  Professor Clifford came to Puget Sound in 1970 and taught chemistry and was associate dean before joining the physics department from 1981 to 1998.  During his time at Puget Sound, he also held the Robert G. Albertson chair.  Since his retirement, he and his wife have raised two children in Hawaii.

 

 

(Photo taken by Ross Mulhausen.  Courtesy University Archives, Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound.)

 

Professor Martin Nelson

Professor Nelson holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound (Class of 1937), the Master’s from the University of Hawaii (1939) and the PhD from Ohio State University (completed in 1942).  Professor Nelson taught physics at Puget Sound from 1946 to 1986.  His years at Puget Sound saw tremendous growth in the university and the physics department, and the physics department grew from two to five faculty members.  Since his retirement, he has enjoyed travel and classical music.  He lives in Tacoma.

 

(Courtesy University Archives, Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound.)

Professor Frank Danes

A native of Czechoslovakia, Professor Danes earned his Bachelor’s degree and PhD at Charles University in Prague.  After escaping from Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia, Professor Danes moved to the United States and eventually came to the University of Puget Sound, where he taught from 1962 to 1984.  His research interests were in geophysics.  During his time at Puget Sound, he published substantial research in geophysics and worked closely with the geology department.  Since his retirement, he has been an active musician and composer and has traveled extensively.  He resides in Tacoma.

 

(Photo from Tamanawas 1983-1984)

Professor Bert Brown

Professor Brown received the Bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in 1949 and the PhD from Oregon State University in 1963.  Professor Brown taught at Puget Sound from 1960 to 1983.  His research interests were in astronomy, astrophysics, and meteorology.  During his time at Puget Sound, he frequently taught astronomy and supervised students doing work in astronomy.  He also kept meticulous records of weather data for Tacoma.  Since his retirement, he has enjoyed travel and mountaineering.  He lives in Tacoma.

 

(Photo from Tamanawas 1980)

Professor Raymond Sanford Seward

Professor Seward founded the physics department at Puget Sound and taught here from 1923 to 1955.  An expert in spectroscopy, he received his Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in 1912, the AM degree from the University of California in 1921, and the PhD from Stanford University in 1930.  Before his death, he and his wife Olive helped fund the Seward Scholarship, given annually to a Puget Sound physics major.

 

(Courtesy University Archives, Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound.)