Current Research Projects
Liquid Crystal Research
Students study the fundamental physical properties of materials. The electronic properties are measured using capacitance and inductance measurement techniques which probe the dielectric and magnetic susceptibility. The students determine the phase transitions by plotting these values as a function of temperature. Optical microscopy, fluorescence and optical scattering measurements are also used to further investigate phase transitions. Currently, we are developing a four-wave mixing experiment in order to probe relaxation times down to 100ns.
Computational Condensed Matter
The computational condensed matter research at UWF is focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for the physics of a variety of complex materials. Primarily, the research is aimed at topological insulators, strongly correlated electronic systems, frustrated quantum magnets, and ultra-cold atomic gases. Additional information about the research in this area can be found at Dr. Varney's personal webpage.
Understanding how students learn is essential to good teaching. In particular, it is necessary to understand how the demographics in the physical sciences learn here at UWF as we have many non-traditional students. The Physics Education group probes student learning and works to develop and implement innovative pedagogies. Our current focus is on Studio style teaching and we have completed implementing Studio Physics I with Calculus. Currently, we are developing a Studio Style Physics II with Calculus course.