Faculty 360: Dr. Luke Myers

Spring 2016

What inspired a farm boy from Indiana to become a nuclear physicist?

I'm fascinated by the ways the world works and the reasons that underlie those observations, so a career in the sciences was always high on my list. I've been fortunate to have excellent teachers who encouraged and developed my interests in science and math. Physics just happened to be the most interesting for me. In graduate school, I was offered the chance to be part of an experiment conducted in Sweden. The opportunity to go out of the country for the first time was too good to pass up, and I got hooked on the research field.

If you could meet any scientist —living or dead— who would it be and why?

Ernest Rutherford—the physicist who discovered that there is a nucleus at the center of each atom. His experiments were simple and well-designed, and he correctly interpreted his results. He's an excellent example of the ideal of an experimental physicist. I would like to know his method for developing such elegant experiments and for making them successful. (I suspect the reason is as Edison said: one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.)

You teach a wide variety of classes. Which is your favorite class and why?

Astronomy is outside my expertise, so it's been a joy to learn new things as I prepare for each class. Electricity and Magnetism is the course closest to my heart, but it's a little hard to convince the general public that a math-heavy theory course is exciting. However, E&M is such a key course to learning 'how' to do physics that every day is enjoyable because of the material's importance for the students.

What impact will the Knowlton Science Center have on students?

I believe the new science building will benefit physics students most in their lab work. The additional lab space will enhance the course experience, and provide opportunities for students to pursue independent projects that are more applicable to their interests. I'm also of the opinion that the new building will boost the morale of our science students. They see that the university, administration, alumni and donors are actively improving the educational opportunities at Bluffton.