Jones drives new physics major

Assistant Professor of Physics, Dyan Jones, Ph. D., is the new chief of the recently established Physics Department.

After being part of the Chemistry Department for many years, the physics department has gained enough leverage to become a department of its own.

Casey Bleuel  photo: Dyan Jones will lead new physics department in the winter.Casey Bleuel photo: Dyan Jones will lead new physics department in the winter.

According to Jones, about 20 years ago there was Physics department here at Mercyhurst. However, due to lack of student interest, the department closed down. Now, under her wing, as well as increasing student enthusiasm, the Mercyhurst physics department reopened its doors this fall.

“Students have been coming in very interested in wanting a physics program. Good science schools across the country have physics programs; it’s one of those ‘have to’ kind of programs like biology and chemistry. So it gets us back on par with really high science schools and gives students another option for something they can study.”

For now, only the physics minor is available, but the major has already been applied for. Jones expects the major to be available for students by this winter. Even though the major is still not completely established, there are already students who are taking the classes waiting for the final paperwork to get settled.

Who is Dyan Jones?

Jones is a west-central Pennsylvania native. She did her undergraduate education at Edinboro University. She later moved to Miami University and then to Kansas State University to complete her higher education.

“Those were big schools and I liked it a lot, but when I knew I wanted to get a job, I really wanted to go back to a small school. Somewhere where I get to know the students,” said Jones. That’s why, as soon as she got her Ph.D., she decided to come to Mercyhurst.

Jones specializes in theoretical quantum optics, a topic that she hasn’t been able to research at Mercyhurst due to absence of a super computer that would support such research. For the meantime, she does research on science education.

“To make my research a bit more accessible for Mercyhurst, I spend a lot of time getting into science education research. So it’s a lot about how students learn and use physics. It involves hardcore physics, cognitive science, psychology and a little bit of a lot of things.

For now, Jones faces the challenge of getting the word out there is now a physics program here at Mercyhurst. She hopes that more students join the program and seize the opportunities that the career can offer.

“A physics major enables you to study the way world works and there are a lot of things you can do with a physics major. A lot of people go straight into jobs in industry or even governmental decisions,” said Jones. “I would encourage all students to give physics a try. I think it’s really interesting. You get to learn a lot and we do our best to make it fun around here.”

Jones teaches General Physics I and II with the labs, and upper division physics courses, including modern physics, mechanics, and optics. She is also the coordinator for the new core assessment.

Besides physics, Jones also enjoys hiking in the summer and quilting. She is known around the student body for her cupcakes, which brings to school many times throughout the year.