Students in observatory looking through telescope

Physics Department

Physics is the study of the structure of the material universe, the particles that comprise it, and the forces by means of which these particles interact. 

The Saint Mary's Physics Department imparts upon students the knowledge of nature and provides them with ways to both appreciate and apply those fundamental principles.

A Habit of Lifelong Discovery and Learning

Consistent with the mission of Saint Mary’s, the Physics Department seeks to develop the professional competencies of its graduates and to instill in them a habit of lifelong discovery and learning. Students are presented with a broad survey of the interconnected concepts of classical and 20th century physics and are able to develop an array of problem-solving skills appropriate to and involving those concepts.

Saint Mary’s dedicates Science and Learning Center [video]

Saint Mary’s University junior biology major Bailey O’Hare joked that she’d make her speech short May 12 during the dedication ceremony for the new Science and Learning Center on the Winona Campus. “Because I, like you, can’t wait to get inside,” she told the crowd of more than 400 people at the Winona Campus celebration. […] Read more ›

Game plan for success

Their paths may not have crossed during their collegiate days, but Tom Rice ’82, Josh Takagishi ’98, Amanda Weinmann ’07 and a host of others share a common bond—or two. Not only were they successful athletes during their time at Saint Mary’s, but they also excelled in the classroom and beyond. Rice, a four-year letterwinner […] Read more ›

Saint Mary’s awarded National Science Foundation funding

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University is announcing that a science proposal of close to $100,000 has been funded by the National Science Foundation for 2017-19. The grant will support a project to create new hands-on learning tools and corresponding curriculum for upper-level physics students. The proposal, “Collaborative Research: Raising Physics to the Surface,” was submitted […] Read more ›
Rendering of the Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Science and Learning Center

A look inside the Science and Learning Center

Each day visible progress is being made at Saint Mary’s new Science and Learning Center, located on the Winona Campus. Virtually step inside and take a personal tour of the $19 million state-of-the-art facility with Jim Nagle of Wight & Company of Chicago. Read more ›

The sky’s the limit with summer NASA program

Ben Preusser, a double major in physics and math, is—no surprise—interested in numbers, and he has always been a fervent fan of facts. “(All students) should all major in physics and math; there are no other majors,” he says with a laugh. It could be this positive attitude, coupled with his love for learning that […] Read more ›

Gaining an Appreciation of Science

All students in the Saint Mary's physics program will gain an appreciation of science as a human and creative endeavor, acquire and apply skills of quantitative reasoning, and understand science’s distinctive disciplinary methodology.

With its emphasis on experimentation and open communication, students pursuing a degree in physics should master foundational physics principles and analytical methods, learn experimental techniques to test physical models, and be able to apply these principles, methods, and techniques to their own professions. 

Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society

The Saint Mary’s chapter of the national physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, was founded in 1964 and exists to celebrate outstanding scholarship. Saint Mary's is home to Minnesota's second-oldest chapter of this prestigious society.

Goals for Our Students

To this end, the physics department presents to students a broad survey of the interconnected concepts of classical and 20th century physics, and develops in students an array of problem-solving skills appropriate to and involving those concepts.

All students in physics classes should gain an appreciation of science as a human and creative endeavor, acquire and be able to apply skills of quantitative reasoning, and understand science’s distinctive disciplinary methodology, with its emphasis on experimentation and open communication. Science majors in physics courses should in addition master foundational physics principles and analytical methods, learn experimental techniques to test physical models, and be able to apply these principles, methods, and techniques to their own professions. Physics majors should add to these goals an introduction to the abstract models and advanced experimental techniques used in the study of physics as a profession, to provide groundwork for their future study or careers.

Through knowledge of these concepts and acquisition of these skills, students then are able to:

  • Live, continue learning, and pursue careers as scientifically literate and technologically competent adults
  • Demonstrate and profit from their expertise in the techniques of modern experimental physics and electronics
  • Appropriately and advantageously employ computer technology both for data acquisition and processing, and algorithm development and execution
  • Communicate their knowledge and skills effectively and cogently in a variety of modalities (oral, written, and graphical)

Faculty

Paul Nienaber, SJ, Ph.D.

Department Chair - Physics, Physics - Associate Professor

LaSalle Hall, LS151

Campus Box: # 32

(507) 457-1532

pnienabe@smumn.edu

Hyunjai (Demian) Cho, Ph.D.

Department Co-Chair, Physics - Assistant Professor

St. Mary's Press, SMPD

Campus Box: # 32

(507) 457-1551

hcho@smumn.edu

Hyunjai (Demian) Cho Ph.D.
Robyn Wangberg, Ph.D.

Physics - Associate Professor

Griffin Hall, GR210

Campus Box: # 32

(507) 457-1580

rwangber@smumn.edu

Robyn Wangberg Ph.D.