Thursday, August 29, 2013

UArk Physics/Geology double major... Approved!

At spring 2013 commencement for the University of Arkansas Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, I happened to sit next to a couple of physics professors.  Lucky me, because I had been thinking about cooking up a physics option for geology undergraduate students.  Dr. Gay Stewart was very encouraging.  We set up a coffee meeting, then had another, and another.  She quickly locked into the idea of double major, not just a minor.  After we had the rough outline, we brought in Dr. Matt Covington, a new Geosciences faculty member and a physicist by training (he did his PhD in Astrophysics).  By late summer it was ready to present to Geosciences department chairman Ralph Davis, who made some suggestions but also strongly supported the plan.  Last Monday the plan was emailed to the entire Geosciences faculty.  We got important feedback from Drs. Guccione and Boss, and these were quickly incorporated into the plan.

Wednesday of this week we had the first faculty meeting of the academic year and the Physics/Geology Double Major was top of the agenda. The University of Arkansas is never likely to have a geophysics undergraduate degree, but that is fine.  It can be persuasively argued that geophysics is best treated as a graduate degree, and that undergraduate years should be spent on more fundamental studies.  This is particularly the case with petroleum geophysics that is aimed at a terminal MS degree. I explained to the assembled faculty that the double degree would take the same time as a single degree (8 semesters), would have the same number of total hours as a single degree (120), all by judicious use of elective hours in both degree programs.  And it would be a solid degree on both sides, not something watered down.  Physics all the way through quantum mechanics and senior project; geology all the way through field camp.  The student who completed such a program would be attractive to the top geophysics or quantitative geology programs in the country.  And is can all be accomplished with existing faculty and resources.

The thought here to catch a few early physics majors who want to have a specialization that benefits from physics training.  It might be possible that a geology major could get into this double major, but it is unlikely since few geology students have quantitative skills necessary for advanced mathematics and physics required.

Anyway, the vote was taken: Unanimous yes in support of the new Physics/Geology double degree program.  Physics had already given approval thanks to the tireless efforts of Gay Stewart.  One degree, two majors.  Still much work to get it in the catalog and recruit a few good students.  So it begins.

27 Aug 2013 form of the Physics/Geology double degree.  Now we just need a few of strong students.

1 comment:

CZHA said...

Congratulations -- so much good news as a result of your efforts. UA students obviously appreciate the new opportunities (from your earlier post).