Faculty Profile

Laura Watson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy (2016)

Contact Information


Tome Scientific Building Room 222


  • M.S., University College, London, U.K., 2009
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education, King's College, London., U.K., 2014
  • Ph.D., Imperial College, London, U.K., 2015

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

PHYS 131 Introductory Physics
An introduction to basic physics topics using the workshop method. This method combines inquiry-based cooperative learning with the comprehensive use of computer tools for data acquisition, data analysis and mathematical modeling. Kinematics, Newton's Laws of motion, conservation laws, rotational motion, and oscillations are studied during the first semester. Additional topics in chaos or nuclear radiation are introduced. Basic calculus concepts are used throughout the course. Recommended for physical science, mathematics, and pre-engineering students and for biology majors preparing for graduate study. Three two-hour sessions per week. Because of the similarity in course content, students will not receive graduation credit for both 131 and 141. Prerequisite: Completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, MATH 151 or 170.

PHYS 208 Introductory Astrophysics
An introduction to the physical basis of astronomy, including discussion of the creation and evolution of the solar system, the stars, and galaxies. Astronomical measurement and units, and dynamical systems, such as binary star systems and star clusters, will be discussed. Similar to Physics 108 or Physics 110, but with additional emphasis on mathematical analysis of astrophysical phenomena. Prerequisite: 131 or 141 or permission of instructor.

Spring 2018

PHYS 110 Astronomy w/Lab
Introduction to the modern concepts of the physical nature of the astronomical universe. Cosmology and the structure and evolution of the stars and galaxies. A terminal laboratory course for non-science students. Three hours classroom, one two-hour laboratory a week. This course will not count toward major requirements in physics.

PHYS 311 Dynamics & Chaos
An advanced treatment of classical mechanics using vector calculus and the calculus of variations, as well as an introduction to the analysis of chaotic systems. Topics will include: the dynamics of systems of particles and conservation laws; linear and nonlinear oscillators; iterative maps and the route to chaos; central force motion; rigid body motion; non-inertial reference frames and fictitious forces; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of dynamics. The course will also focus heavily on analytical and problem-solving techniques. Prerequisite: 211 and 282 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS 550 Independent Research