Jennifer Carson

Undergraduate Discipline


SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. PhD, University of California, Los Angeles. MFA, Bennington College. Past astrophysics research includes: ground-based gamma-ray detections of active galaxies, infrared observations of high-redshift AGN, Hubble Space Telescope measurements of globular clusters. Collaborated on the Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope. Previously taught courses at the Claremont Colleges, Harvey Mudd, Occidental College, and Santa Monica College, among others. SLC, 2021–

Undergraduate Courses 2020-2021


Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: one year of calculus, as well as one year of general physics and/or general chemistry.

What does a thermometer measure? How does a refrigerator work? What is really meant by “entropy”? This course covers an array of concepts with which these and similar questions can be addressed, including temperature, heat, entropy, and internal energy. We will explore the laws satisfied by these quantities (thermodynamics); their grounding in the statistical properties of large collections of particles (statistical mechanics); and their applications through various topics in physics, chemistry, and engineering. Seminars will include a mixture of discussion and mathematical problem solving. This is a standard intermediate course for students interested in pursuing physics, physical chemistry, or engineering. No previous exposure to thermodynamics is necessary.