Douglas Vodnik attributes his love of physics to his father. While he was in high school, his dad brought him a lecture series on physics. Douglas was inspired — and never looked back.
“Now I love physics,” he said. “Through studying it, I get to learn about and understand the universe at its most fundamental level. No other realm of inquiry can offer that.”
After graduating from Carthage, Douglas plans to continue on to graduate school and then become a physics professor or physicist. He said he’s learned what it means to be a great physics professor from the faculty at Carthage.
“The Physics Department here has a number of excellent professors who obviously love helping their students,” Douglas said. “My relationship with the physics professors has been very helpful, as they have provided me with a lot of sound advice.”
When originally applying to schools, Douglas was drawn to Carthage’s physics program because of all of the opportunities that it provides its students. The summer after his freshman year, he participated in Carthage’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experienceprogram. Douglas performed research on carbon nanotubes with Prof. Kevin Crosby.
“In addition to having loads of fun, I got a taste of how research is done at the graduate and postgraduate level,” Douglas said. “I was also eventually able to present my research at a regional conference at Washington University in St. Louis, and I was able to use my research experience to propel me into obtaining a summer research position at the Colorado School of Mines last summer.”
He appreciates the size of the program, which, while growing, is still relatively small. “It creates a sense of camaraderie among students as we all struggle through the material together,” he said.
“My current career goal is to either become a physics professor or a physicist. As a physicist, I’d like to do research into renewable energies, such as solar power.”
“My favorite physics professor is Dr. Jean Quashnock (or ‘Q,’ as he is affectionately known). Like all physics professors, Q is a bit wacky, but he’s a really nice guy and his love for students is quite evident. Q is my advisor, and over the past two years that I’ve known him, he has been a great mentor to me.”
“It’s very hard to pick a favorite class, but of the ones I’ve taken so far it might actually be Math Methods with Dr. Erlan Wheeler. Math Methods was just a great survey course of the basic mathematical tools that physicists need, and as a result I learned a lot of useful and interesting things. Also, the fact that it was a survey course meant that we got the skip most of the tedious math proofs and get right to the applications, which I as a physics major really appreciated.”
“The most difficult class I’ve taken so far has been Quantum Mechanics with Q. In all the other physics classes I’ve taken, we’ve always started from physics we’ve seen before, and gradually moved into the really difficult material. In Quantum, however, I was in unfamiliar territory the first day when we started with Schrodinger’s equation, and it never got better.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“Bible studies, the Packer’s Super Bowl party in the Oaks, evenings at Fencing Club, last year’s snow day.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Make sure you understand everything to your own satisfaction. If you understand something the first time through, then congratulations. But go get help if you need it. There are a lot of people willing to help you, but you have to take advantage of them.”