Skip to main content
2 answers
3
Updated 507 views

What kind of projects do physics majors work on?

Do you work in R&D or just research? How do you work with scientists of other fields? #research #science #physics

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

3

2 answers


0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Lorinda’s Answer

Hi - I got a physics PhD, and ended up in a job in banking developing models to help predict losses and to optimize pricing. My husband who also has a PhD in physics creates scenarios for losses that could happen based on proverbial 'black swan' events - that is the really big things that people don't think will really happen - but which actually do. Neither of those is probably not your first career goal if you're interested in studying physics, but physics degrees tend to be well respected - so it's good to know that you have a good amount of career flexibility with them.

My friends from grad school are mostly still working in physics - most are professors teaching at university and doing research. A few are working at laboratories and get to do (or manage) research all day long. They seem fairly happy with their work.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Andrew’s Answer

It should be appreciated that, in undergraduate years, a physics major should be exposed to the fundamentals of a wide range of topics in physics. Any in-depth study will have to wait until the graduate school. Therefore, typical undergraduate projects in physics are designed to strength understanding of fundamental concepts.

In my undergrad years in physics (1971-1975, University of Hawaii), I had not worked on any particular projects in physics except the laboratory courses. For my master’s degree at Arizona State University (1975-1978), I engaged in projects related to experimental solid-state: physics electron diffraction and imaging configuration in electron microscopy. For my Ph.D. at Stony Brook University (formerly State University of New York at Stony Brook) from 1978 through 1984, I engaged in x-ray diffraction/crystallography as well as theoretical modelling of the elastic properties of minerals (crystalline solids of geophysical interests) based on a mathematical theory/technic I developed. All these were basic research. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science (1984-1985), I continued my work from Stony Brook University.

Then, I left academia to work as a scientific consultant for NASA from 1985 through 2005. I performed both basic research as well as R&D projects. At first it was a project related to radio-astronomy. Gradually, I migrated to terrestrial geophysics and then to space-borne geophysics. Later, I moved onto space geodesy/satellite tracking working with global climate data. My work was interdisciplinary, and I had to work with scientists of various fields. We worked well together to make it a very fruitful endeavor.

I left scientific consulting back to academia in 2006 as a professor of mathematics and statistics, and retired in January, 2020.
0