​Physics is the most fundamental science; all other sciences are based on our understanding of the elementary pieces of the universe that physics discusses.  It begins with the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago and goes on to explain the creation of more complicated particles that condense into stars and then accumulate into galaxies.  To explain the structures in chemistry and the more complex structures found in biology, the principles of physics are invoked. From lasers to CAT scans, from global climate change to the mechanisms of cancer, physics is involved in every step.

Finer and more subtle ideas are constantly being used to explain new experimental results. New entities and ideas from string theories or the recently discovered gravitational waves give us more insight into the evolution and functioning of the very universe of which we are a part.

Physicists have the skills needed in many areas of life. The ability to analyze and model physical problems often makes the modeling of business problems a straightforward task. The ability to conduct and analyze an experiment is great preparation for understanding data in more general situations and finding the regularities which permit prediction and ultimately, explanations.

Effective learning requires the right environment. For students who wish a unique, intimate setting where faculty are friendly, easily available, and have a wide variety of interests, Thomas More is the place.

At Thomas More students will learn with their friends in the department. There is a student lounge in the adjoining room where students gather to discuss work, socialize and learn from each other. The math and physics tutoring center is where many students work and collaborate. Students who study physics love being a part of the saints community.

The study of physics begins with a two year sequence, mechanics, electromagnetic theory, thermodynamics and waves, and relativity and atomic physics. There are parallel laboratory courses. After that, a student studies the same subject more deeply in electronics, mechanics, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics and advanced mathematical physics. Of course, there are supporting courses in calculus and other advanced mathematics courses as well as advanced experimental courses that tackle difficult experiments in optics and atomic physics.

A capstone course usually involves a project designed and built by the student and presented at the Thomas More Science Exhibit or at a regional meeting like the Kentucky Academy of Sciences. This can be a theoretical project for the interested student.


Dr. Wes Ryle: He is an astronomer and runs the BB&T observatory and manages its public outreach program. His expertise is in active galactic nuclei known as blazars. He runs an active research program with students at the observatory studying eclipsing binary star systems.

Dr. Robert Riehemann: His PhD is in mathematics, but he is ABD in physics. In physics, his research interest is quantum field theory, experimental superconductivity and mathematical physics, especially relativity.

Dr. Joe Christensen: His expertise is in lattice gauge theory and supercomputer methods in physics modeling. Dr. Christensen is the associate dean of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Austin Hinkel: He specializes in data-intensive astrophysics and studies the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy using the Gaia Space Telescope and other surveys. He is also interested in applying data science to a wide array of interdisciplinary problems.

​Historically, Thomas More produced more students who went on to get a PhD in physics that any other physics program in the Commonwealth, even the University of Kentucky. These were usually in experimental physics, the area where most jobs can be found. Our students have attended all local and some national graduate schools, including Ohio State and MIT. Some students have gotten PhDs in engineering (Electro-optics) and others work at local large and small businesses from Proctor and Gamble to start-ups. We have tenured faculty in multiple departments locally and others teach in local high schools.

Students with training in physics and advanced mathematics are warmly welcomed in all professional schools. As a group, they do exceptionally well on the  Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), so a physics background is good preparation for such careers. This is also true for the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT). Other careers follow from graduate work in physics to become a physics professor or member of a research institute. Undergraduate degrees in physics lead to employment in laboratories, businesses, and high school teaching.

​Thomas More students have attended Research Experience for Undergraduates events in astronomy and physics at multiple institutions. Their work has been presented at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences and regional meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers. All students participate in a senior capstone course, PHY 491, that requires professional presentations and communication of a research project carried out by the student.

​Incoming majors need strong mathematical skills and must register for Calculus I, which requires an ACT Math score of at least 23.

​There are two named scholarships available from the department: the Sister Fox and the Father Schuler scholarships. These are competitive and require an application to the department chairperson. In general, almost all Thomas More students receive other financial aid. Inquiries should be made to the admissions office.

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