Beth Parks

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Beth Parks

Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Department/Office Information

Physics and Astronomy
315 Ho Science Center

What I love about Colgate is that the institution is dedicated to giving all of us—faculty and students alike—opportunities to learn new things. For me, those opportunities have been in three main categories: teaching, research, and professional experiences and travel.

I arrived at Colgate in 1997 and promptly got to teach subjects that I had never studied, from Energy and Sustainability to Statistical Mechanics. (How I earned a physics undergraduate degree without statistical mechanics—in fact, with only one upper-level course in physics—is a story for another time!) It’s absolutely true that you learn best by teaching, and I encourage all our students to get involved in peer tutoring.

My initial research at Colgate used time-domain terahertz spectroscopy to study single-molecule magnets, and I’m currently using this technique to study GHz resonators made from carbon nanotubes. I’ve also had the chance to investigate many other problems that intrigued me. I have ongoing projects to quantify insulation in buildings, make solar trackers appropriate for developing nations, characterize a diffusion demonstration, and study air pollution in Uganda.

I’ve also had opportunities to visit and live in other areas of the world, taking students on two extended study trips to learn about renewable energy in Norway, twice leading semester-long trips to Cardiff, Wales, and spending a year as a Fulbright fellow in Mbarara, Uganda. (See an article I wrote for the Colgate Scene,On the Bright Side”) My next adventure starts in September, when I’ll become the editor of the American Journal of Physics, which is the American Association of Physics Teachers’s journal focusing on university-level physics education.

AB in Physics with a Certificate in Theater and Dance, Princeton University, 1988;

MA (1991), PhD (1995) in Physics, University of California at Berkeley

Teaching at Colgate

  • Physics 112 Fundamental Physics II (algebra-based E&M and modern physics)
  • Physics 131 Atoms and Waves (introductory course for physics & astronomy majors)
  • Physics 202, 204 Mathematical Methods for Physics
  • Physics 334 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity
  • Physics 410 Advanced Topics and Experiments
  • Physics 432 Electromagnetism
  • Physics 433 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Physics 434 Quantum Mechanics
  • Physics 453 Solid State Physics
  • ENST 322 Comparative Energy Policy: U.S. and U.K.
  • ENST 336 Renewable Energy
  • ENST 480 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
  • CORE 101 Energy and Sustainability

Other Teaching Experience

  • Chemistry teacher, St. Columbkille High School, MA, 1988-89
  • Visiting professor, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda, 2015-16
  • Electronic properties of solids, particularly at microwave and far-infrared frequencies; carbon nanotubes and single molecule magnets
  • Energy and sustainability
  • Energy conservation in buildings

“Comment on ‘Ping-pong ball cannon: Why do barrel and balls fly in the same direction?’ [Am. J. Phys. 87, 255-263 (2019)],” Beth Parks and Hans Benze, submitted to American Journal of Physics, 2020.

“Teaching Women’s History in Physics,” Beth Parks, in revision for publication in The Physics Teacher, 2020.

“Spatio-temporal variation in the concentration of airborne particulate matter (PM10) in Uganda,” Silver Onyango, Beth Parks, Simon Anguma, Qingyu Meng, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019.

Modern Introductory Physics, 2nd edition, C. H. Holbrow, J. N. Lloyd, J. C. Amato, E. Galvez, and M. E. Parks, Springer, 2010.

“Research-inspired problems for electricity and magnetism,” Beth Parks, American Journal of Physics 74, 351 (2006).March 27, 2006 Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology http://www.vjnano.org

“Effect of mechanical stress on the linewidth of single photon absorptions in Mn12-acetate”
Beth Parks, Lea Vacca*, Evan Rumberger, David N. Hendrickson, George Christou, Physica B, 329-333 pt. 2, 1181-2 (2003).

“Inhomogeneous broadening of single photon transitions in molecular magnets,” Beth Parks, Joseph Loomis*, Evan Rumberger, En-Che Yang, David N. Hendrickson, and George Christou, Journal of Applied Physics, 91, 7170 (2002).

“Photon quantum mechanics and beam splitters,” C.H. Holbrow, E. Galvez, M. E. Parks, American Journal of Physics, 70, 260 (2002).

“Linewidth of single-photon transitions in Mn12-acetate,” Beth Parks, Joseph Loomis*, Evan Rumberger, David N. Hendrickson, and George Christou, Physical Review B, 64, 184426 (2001).

“Magnetization measurements of antiferromagnetic domains in Sr2Cu3O4Cl2,” Beth Parks, M. A. Kastner, Y. J. Kim, A. B. Harris, F. C. Chou, O. Entin-Wohlman, and A. Aharony, Physical Review B, 63, 134433 (2001).

“Field-dependent antiferromagnetism and ferromagnetism of the two copper sublattices in Sr2Cu3O4Cl2,” M.A. Kastner, Amnon Aharony, R.J. Birgeneau, F.C. Chou, O. Entin-Wohlman, M. Greven, A.B. Harris, Y.J. Kim, Y.S. Lee, M.E. Parks, Q. Zhu, Physical Review B, 59, 14702, (1999).

“High-frequency Hall effect in the normal state of YBa2Cu3O7,” Beth Parks, S. Spielman, J. Orenstein, Physical Review B, 56, 115 (1997).

“Coherent terahertz spectroscopy of the vortex-state of cuprate superconductors,” Beth Parks, C. Karadi, R. Mallozzi, J. Orenstein, D.T. Nemeth, F. Ludwig, J. Clarke, P. Merchant, D.J. Lew, I. Bozovic, J.N. Eckstein, Ferroelectrics, 177, (1996).

“High frequency electrodynamics of cuprate superconductors in the vortex state,” Beth Parks, R. Mallozzi, J. Orenstein, D.T. Nemeth, F. Ludwig, J. Clarke, P. Merchant, D.J. Lew, Proceedings of Physical Phenomena at High Magnetic Fields-II, World Scientific, Singapore, p.561, (1996).

“Re-examining the vortex state of cuprate superconductors with gap anisotropy,” Beth Parks, J. Orenstein, Richard Mallozzi, D. T. Nemeth, Frank Ludwig, John Clarke, Paul Merchant, D. J. Lew, I. Bozovic, J. N. Eckstein, (Conference on Spectroscopies in Novel Superconductors, Stanford, CA, March 1995) Journal of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids, 56, 1815 (1995).

“Phase-sensitive measurements of vortex dynamics in the terahertz domain,” Beth Parks, S. Spielman, J. Orenstein, D. T. Nemeth, Frank Ludwig, John Clarke, Paul Merchant, D. J. Lew, Physical Review Letters, 74, 3265 (1995).

“Quasiparticle Hall effect in superconducting YBa2Cu3O7-,” S. Spielman, Beth Parks, J. Orenstein, D.T. Nemeth, F. Ludwig, J. Clarke, P. Merchant, D.J. Lew, Physica C, 235-240, 2021 (1994).

“Observation of the quasiparticle Hall effect in superconducting YBa2Cu3O7-,” S. Spielman, Beth Parks, J. Orenstein, D. T. Nemeth, Frank Ludwig, John Clarke, Paul Merchant, D. J. Lew, Physical Review Letters, 73, 1537 (1994).

“Quasiparticle Hall effect in superconducting YBa2Cu3O7-,” S. Spielman, Beth Parks, J. Orenstein, D. T. Nemeth, Frank Ludwig, John Clarke, Paul Merchant, D. J. Lew, (International Conference on Materials and Mechanisms of Superconductivity – High-Temperature Superconductors IV, Grenoble, France, July 1994) Physica C, 235-240, pt. 3, 2021 (1994).

“The high-frequency Hall effect in YBCO thin films,” S. Spielman, Beth Parks, J. Orenstein, D. T. Nemeth, Frank Ludwig, John Clarke, Paul Merchant, D. J. Lew, International Conference on Millimeter and Submillimeter Waves and Applications, SPIE Vol. 2250, 312 (1994).

“Direct calorimetric determination of energetics of oxygen in yttrium barium copper oxide (YBa2Cu3Ox),” M. E. Parks, A. Navrotsky, K. Mocala, E. Takayama-Muromachi, A. Jacobson, P. K. Davies, Journal of Solid State Chemistry, 79, 53-62 (1989)

"High frequency electrodynamics of the cuprate superconductors in the vortex state"

Beginning June 2020: Editor, American Journal of Physics

Aug. 2015 - July 2016: Fulbright Scholar, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda

July 2016 - present: Visiting professor, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda

July 2011 - June 2014: Chair, Colgate University, Department of Physics and Astronomy

July 1997 - present: Assistant/Associate Professor of Physics, Colgate University

Sept. 1995 - June 1997: Post-doctoral Associate, M. I. T., Department of Physics
                     Effect of carrier doping on systems with magnetic order; supervisor: M. Kastner

  • PhysTEC fellow, selected by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition to receive recognition and support to enhance Colgate’s high school physics teacher education programs (co-recipient: Meg Gardner, Educational Studies).
  • American Physical Society International Travel Grant, Funds to bring Silver Onyango to Colgate University for 30 days in September-October 2017 for research collaboration, $2000.
  • U.S. Department of State, Fulbright Scholar, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda, August 2015 – July 2016.
  • National Science Foundation, “IMR - RUI: Acquisition of a Magnet Cryostat for Terahertz Spectroscopy and Education,” September 1, 2004 – August 31, 2005 to fund the purchase of a superconducting magnet cryostat for use in single molecule magnet experiments, $138,507.
  • National Science Foundation, RUI: Magnetic Tunneling and Relaxation in Single Molecule Magnets Examined Using Terahertz Spectroscopy,” July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2007 (extended through June 2009) to support research on single molecule magnet experiments, $120,000.
  • National Science Foundation, EHR Act for Women and Girls in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics “DEM: Girls under the hood,” Jan. 2003 – Dec. 2005 (extended through Dec. 2007), to design and run a summer camp for girls ages 14-16 that developped their interest in science through an exploration of the science and engineering of automobiles, $377,965.
  • National Science Foundation, Engineering Research Centers “Center for nanoscale systems in information technologies,” Sept. 2001 – Aug. 2006, $143,030 out of a total budget of $11.6M involving 26 participants at Cornell and 4 at other institutions. (PI: Robert Buhrman, Cornell U.) Renewed for September 2007 – August 2012, $150,000 local budget.
  • Research Corporation, “Terahertz spectroscopy of semiconductor nanocrystals,” June 2000 – May 2002 (later amended to study single molecule magnets), $34,683.
  • National Science Foundation, CCLI Educational Materials Development “Photon quantum mechanics for undergraduates,” June 1, 2000 – May 31, 2002 (Enrique Galvez and Charles Holbrow, co-PIs) to develop experiments for undergraduates that demonstrate the quantum mechanical nature of light (extended until May 31, 2003), $74,862.
  • National Science Foundation, POWRE “Enhancement of a Time-Domain Terahertz Spectrometer for Studying Condensed Matter Systems.” February 1, 1998 - July 31, 1999 to purchase equipment and supplies and support undergraduate students, $61,929

p. 7 implies that the electrical force is 1038 times stronger than gravity.  For two protons, it’s 1036 times stronger, and for two electrons, it’s closer to 1042 times stronger.  The book is roughly correct for the force between a proton and an electron, such as in a hydrogen molecule.

p. 21 micrometers (mm = 10-6)  --  the unit “m” is missing

p. 38, Fourth line from the bottom of the page: The unit “meganewtons” should be written with a lowercase “m.”  The “M” is capitalized in the symbol “MN” but not when the prefix is spelled out.

p. 44, Section 2.7, first word: Double quotation marks should be used on both sides of “Energy.”

p. 44, Section 2.7, third paragraph. The second and third sentences of this paragraph are paraphrases of each other.

p. 49, Section 2.7. The first instance of the word “their” on the page should be “there.”

p. 58 Problem 2.10 should tell you that the dimensions of frequency are time^(-1). The units are s^(-1).

p. 59 Problem 2.16 can't really be solved without knowing the moment of inertia of the ball. As it rolls up the hill, some of its rotational kinetic energy is changed into translational kinetic energy, changing the final speed. If the ball were sliding on a frictionless surface, then we wouldn't have to worry about the rotational kinetic energy.

p. 70 In the paragraph in the middle of the page, the word “atom” is repeated in “atom of helium atom.”

p. 93 In the first line after Exercise 4, “Eq. 3” should be punctuated as an appositive.

p. 100 In the first sentence after the equation for kV, the word “the” is repeated.

p. 101 Exercise 15 includes its own answer.

p. 103 Exercise 18 should be punctuated as a question.

p. 110 There is a missing space between "are" and "N" on the 6th line up from the bottom of the page.

p. 115 The equation between (9) and (10) should have n_M x M_M on the left-hand side, not n_m x M_m.

p. 119 Equation 13 should have M_M in the denominator, not M.

p. 124 Example 5.5 says that when pressure is held constant, mean free path scales with the square root of T because volume scales as T and velocity scales as the square root of T. But of course, the velocity has nothing to do with the mean free path, so the answer should simply be that the mean free path scales with T.

p. 132 Section 5.5 is immediately followed by section 5.7, with no section 5.6.

p. 166 Problem 5.5(d)(e) ask about electric fields, which are not introduced until the next chapter.

p. 167 Problem 6.9c should refer to part b, not “part 0b.”

p. 179 In the paragraph following Eq. 10, joules are defined as N m s-2 rather than N m or kg m2 s-2.

p. 196 Problem 10 should state that the potential difference is 100 V.

p. 265 Problem 11b does not ask a question; it simply gives information that is needed for part (c).

p. 272 In Problem 26, the second paragraph should say “0.207 g” not “0.207 gm.”

p. 290 Exercise 4 should ask for a graph of the displacement vs. position along the length of the string, not vs. the length of the string.

p. 299 Exercise 13 should state that the displacement is a minimum at a time T/4 later.

p. 308 The next-to-last sentence of the first paragraph of section 10.4 is missing a period.

p. 327 Figure 10.21 refers to Problem 0a instead of Problem 5a.

p. 350 Second sentence under “How Motion Described in One Frame is Described in Another”: “tFo” should be “to”

p. 417 Problem 5b should ask why the current is not zero when V > 0, since in this plot, V represents the voltage applied to the cathode with respect to the anode.  When Vcathode > Vanode, the electrons are slowed down as they travel toward the anode, but some of them still get to the anode (the collector) as long as the voltage is less than Vstop

p. 436 Line 4: place à placed

p. 546 Problem 1a is asking you to draw an “energy level diagram,” not just a “level diagram.”

p. 579 Exercise 2 says “either and even number or a 3” when it should be “either an even number or a 3.”

p. 620: “Photons reflected from the beam splitter must be also be in the B state.”

p. 623: Problem 4b is missing the word "a" in "has a compensating plate."

p. 627: Problem 12b presents a table with impossible results, unless there is an eavesdropper. If the two photons are entangled with parallel polarizations, then when Alice's and Bob's polarizers have the same orientation, they must both make the same measurement (either transmitted or reflected).