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Katrin Schenk

Image of Katrin SchenkAssociate Professor of Physics
B.S., University of California at Los Angeles; M.S., Ph.D., Cornell University

Katrin has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University and now does computational neuroscience/ethology research. She received her training in computational neuroscience during her tenure as a Sloan-Swartz Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco.

Her research is focused on understanding the underlying dynamics of animal behavior and how knowledge of these dynamics can inform us about the effects of disease processes and environmental and/or genetic perturbations. Her research makes use of real behavioral data taken by collaborators in the fields of psychiatry, physiology, neurology, neuroscience and medicine and her main plans involve long term collaborations with experimentalists in the fields of geriatrics, psychiatry, and physiology.

She came to Randolph College because she is passionate about involving undergraduates in original research and because Randolph College’s high faculty to student ratio, flexible administration, and committed science faculty make it an ideal environment for fostering collaborations with undergraduates.

Please see her lab’s facebook page:

Peter Sheldon

Image of Peter SheldonChair of the Physics Department, Professor of Physics
B.A., Amherst College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts

Peter Sheldon is the Chair of the Physics Department, Director of the Dual-Degree Engineering Program, and Director of the Center for Student Research. He has a PhD and an MS in Physics from the University of Massachusetts, and has a BA in Physics and a BA in Mathematics from Amherst College. Dr. Sheldon’s research net is wide: he is by education a low-temperature physicist, but has picked up the fields of ultrafast laser spectroscopy and physics education research in the last ten years. He has published in all of these fields.

Dr. Sheldon is currently working on two grant-funded projects. He has a grant from Verizon and the VFIC to improve technology education for under-represented groups, and a grant from SCHEV (State Council of Higher Education in Virginia) to train elementary and middle school teachers to better teach science.

Another of Dr. Sheldon’s specialties is bringing physics to the general public. He regularly gives talks to all age groups on Amusement Park Physics, Newton’s Laws, Pseudoscience, Why Cats Land on Their Feet, and of Innovative Uses of Technology. He is certainly a computer geek, and teaches and uses computers extensively. A selection of Dr. Sheldon’s publications include “Scientific Inquiry: Improved Learning,” with Peggy Schimmoeller, and Tatiana Toteva, Academic Exchange Quarterly 13 (2009); “3He spin diffusion measurements in 3He-4He mixture films,” P. A. Sheldon and R. B. Hallock, Physical Review Letters 85, 1468 (2000); and “Short pulse excitation and spectroscopy of KNbO3, LiNbO3, and KTiOPO4,” H. M. Yochum, P.A. Sheldon et al, Radiation Effects and Defects in Solids 150, 271 (1999).

Along with Kacey Meaker ’08, Dr Sheldon is currently writing a book that will appeal to a popular audience or an introductory physics class, on the physics of roller-coasters.

Sarah Sojka

Image of Sarah SojkaAssistant Professor of Environmental Science and Physics
B.A., Eckerd College; M.S., Ph.D., University of Virginia

I fell in love with science as a child, balanced on my toes on a stool leaning over the sink with a friend, our “chemicals”, including dish soap and bubble bath, surrounding us, trying to remove the smell from black pepper. I remember the intensity with which we worked and the thrill of feeling that we were discovering something. My goal as a science educator is to foster that same sense of wonder and curiosity in all of my students.

I earned my undergraduate degree at Eckerd College in Environmental Studies-Public Policy. As a student at a small liberal arts college, I loved getting to know my professors and the opportunities for research, including a project studying water quality in Nicaragua. My interest in water quality led me to the University of Virginia for an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences. I studied how physical processes affect the biological processes in shallow coastal systems. Unfortunately, we frequently study average or calm weather conditions in these systems and forget how much winds and waves can affect the primary producers. I used modeling, experiments and monitoring data to study how wind conditions affect light and nutrient availability for seagrass. I am continuing this research and look forward to involving students in it. After graduate school, I took my work inland and began working on rainwater harvesting systems. These systems are designed to collect the rain that falls on the roof of a building and use it for irrigation, toilets and other uses. My primary interest is how rainwater harvesting can be used to reduce stormwater runoff and protect coastal systems.

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