The members of the physics faculty come from diverse backgrounds and bring to the department a wide range of research interests. They include: biophysics, acoustics, foundations of quantum theory, passive solar heating, atomic force microscopy, laser spectroscopy, computational physics, non-linear systems, psychophysics, and astronomy.

Don Bunk, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: quantum field theory and particle physics phenomenology.
Don Bunk joins Hamilton College as visiting assistant professor of Physics for 2013-14. More >>

Bunk was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and then began his academic pursuits at Dutchess Community College. In 2006 he earned his B.A. at SUNY New Paltz where he studied physics and philosophy. Bunk recently earned his doctorate at nearby Syracuse University in theoretical physics.

His research is in particle physics and he is interested in investigating Beyond-Standard Model physics such as the Strong CP problem, composite Higgs models, and Supersymmetry. Bunk is currently investigating Higgs decays at the LHC, in particular the Higgs decay to a photon and Z boson.

Brian Collett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: computational and electronic projects, and the development of programs to help teach aspects of physics.
Before coming to Hamilton in 1986, Collett was a staff fellow at National Institutes of Health and a visiting assistant professor of physics at Mt. Holyoke College. Collett received a Ph.D. from Princeton University. More >>

Collett received a Ph.D. from Princeton University. Over the past few years Collett has concentrated on computational and electronic projects. He is developing programs to help teach various aspects of physics, such as time dependent wave functions and three dimensional models of electromagnetic fields.

Current projects include developing a 1-D CCD detector system for spectroscopy, visualising electromagnetic fields, using finite element methods to find quantum mechanical wave functions, and developing robots for teaching electronics.

Gordon Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: neutron spin filters and angular correlations in neutron decay.
Gordon Jones earned his master's and doctorate in nuclear physics from Princeton University. His research interests include using neutrons to study fundamental symmetries and polarizing neutrons for use in materials science. More >>

His research interests include using neutrons to study fundamental symmetries and polarizing neutrons for use in materials science. On the fundamental side, Jones studies time reversal symmetry and weak interactions in nuclei. On the applied side, Jones builds devices used to understand magnetic materials such as the read heads in computer hard drives.

His published papers appear in a range of journals including Physical Review C, Journal of Applied Crystalography, and Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Prior to coming to Hamilton in 1999, Jones worked as a NRC Post-Doc, NIST, and a visiting scientist at Indiana University. 

More about Gordon Jones >>

Kate Jones-Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physics

Kate Jones-Smith is a theoretical physicist who studies cosmology, fundamental physics, and interdisciplinary science. More >>

Her first publication appeared in Nature and debunked a mathematical technique which had previously been used to identify authentic drip paintings by Jackson Pollock.  Since then she has published on diverse topics such as gravitational radiation arising from cosmological phase transitions, mathematical analogies between ordinary conducting materials and certain models of dark energy, and non-Hermitian theories of quantum mechanics which describe new fundamental particles and quasi-particles. She earned her Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University.

Seth Major, Ph.D., Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: theoretical physics, quantum gravity, quantum geometry, general relativity, and quantum gravity phenomenology.
Seth Major's research is in quantum gravity, a field of theoretical physics devoted to finding the deep structure of spacetime, and in the phenomenology of quantum geometry. More >>

Recently Major’s research has focused on possible observable consequences of quantum gravity particularly on how granular spatial geometry might be indirectly observed. Less recently he has worked on the quantum deformation of quantum gravity, causal sets, operators in quantum gravity, and modified dispersion relations.

Prior to taking a position at Hamilton Major was a Lise Meitner Fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Vienna and taught at Swarthmore College and Deep Springs College. He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Pennsylvania State University.


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Peter Millet, Ph.D., Litchfield Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: complexity simulations using cellular automata; acoustic impedance tube measurements; small-observatory operation and measurements.
Peter Millet has guided undergraduate studies in experimental physics on such varied topics as investigations on the interaction between acoustic fields and air jets, and on the approach to chaos in a simple mechanical oscillator. More >>

Millet has supervised computational studies of three body celestial mechanics and, in the context of complexity theory, the use of cellular automata to model traffic flow. Students have worked with him on small observatory activities such as CCD imaging, and the manipulation and analysis of images using IRAF.

His published work can be found in the American Journal of Physics, Physical Review, Physica, Physical Review Letters, Journal of Acoustical Society of America and The Physics Teacher. Millet has been a member of the Hamilton College faculty for more than 30 years. He earned a Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

More about Peter Millet >>

Ann Silversmith, Ph.D., Professor of Physics

Areas of Expertise: laser spectroscopy of rare earths in insulating solids and developing new laser materials useful in the solid state laser industry.
In 1989, Silversmith joined the Hamilton College faculty after completing a Ph.D. at the Australian National University and doing post-doctoral work at the IBM Almaden Research Center. More >>

Silversmith introduced laser spectroscopy, an aspect of physics easily accessible to students, to the Hamilton Physics Department and has supervised more than 30 research students. Two of her student collaborators were named finalists for the Apker Award, given annually by the American Physical Society for excellence in undergraduate research.

Silversmith specializes in developing new laser materials that would be useful in the solid state laser industry and is currently investigating the spectroscopy of rare earth doped sol-gel glasses. Her research has been funded by the Research Corporation and National Science Foundation. Silversmith's recent papers have appeared in the Journal of Noncrystallized Solids and the Journal of Luminescence.

More about Ann Silversmith >>

James Ring, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Emeritus

Areas of Expertise: nuclear, chemical and environmental physics.
Ring earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Rochester. More >>

Ring’s research interests include scattering of pions from Hydrogen, investigating H-bonded liquids by dielectric costant, viscosity measurements and by neutron scattering, analyzing low counting rate experiments for evidence of the validity of Phil Pearle's continuous spontaneous localization theory, environmental physics such as radon dangers, health physics such as nuclear fallout, solar energy such as our solar classroom and global warming such as the geochronology of sedimentation in the Antartic Peninsula. His research has been published in The  Physics of Simple Liquids. in Civil Defense: A Choice of Disasters ( book published by the American Institute of Physics), Physical Review, Journal of Chemical Physics, Health Physics, Indoor Air, Energy and Buildings, Environment International and American Journal of Archeology.

Ring’s accomplishments have given him a listing in Whos Who in America, Whos Who in Technology Today, and in American Men and Women of Science, as well as a science faculty fellowship from NSF, research grants from NSF and a prize from The Academy for Educational Development for his design and execution of The Solar Classroom at Hamilton.