Merideth Frey

BA, Wellesley College. PhD, Yale University. Past research in novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for 3D imaging of solids and using optical magnetometry for low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Current research involves building a low-field magnetic resonance setup to explore cross-disciplinary MR applications and develop new MR techniques at low magnetic fields. Previously taught courses at Wesleyan University and Princeton University, including helping develop investigative science learning environment physics labs. SLC, 2016–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Physics

20th-Century Physics

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course will provide an overview of the pivotal developments in 20th-century physics that dramatically overturned the centuries-old scientific understanding of the fundamental laws of our universe. In this seminar-style class, we will discuss readings, walk through thought experiments, and unravel paradoxes to understand the concepts behind Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, debate various interpretations of quantum mechanics, and explore the open questions that are motivating theoretical physics research in the 21st century.

Faculty

Classical Mechanics (Calculus-Based General Physics)

Open, Seminar—Fall

Calculus-based general physics is a standard course at most institutions; as such, this course will prepare you for more advanced work in the physical science, engineering, or health fields. This course will cover introductory classical mechanics, including kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, and gravity. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including: problem-solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, use of technology, and development and execution of experiments. The best way to develop scientific skills is to practice the scientific process. We will focus on learning physics through discovering, testing, analyzing, and applying fundamental physics concepts in an interactive classroom, as well as in weekly laboratory meetings.

Faculty

Electromagnetism & Light (Calculus-Based General Physics)

Open, Seminar—Spring

Calculus-based general physics is a standard course at most institutions; as such, this course will prepare you for more advanced work in the physical science, engineering, or health fields. This course will cover waves, geometric and wave optics, electrostatics, magnetostatics, and electrodynamics. We will use the exploration of the particle and wave properties of light to bookend our discussions and ultimately finish our exploration of classical physics with the hints of its incompleteness. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including: problem-solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, use of technology, and development and execution of experiments. The best way to develop scientific skills is to practice the scientific process. We will focus on learning physics through discovering, testing, analyzing, and applying fundamental physics concepts in an interactive classroom, as well as in weekly laboratory meetings.

Faculty

It’s About Time

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

This seminar will explore the topic of time from a wide variety of viewpoints—from the physical to the metaphysical to the practical. We will seek the answers to questions such as: What is time? How do we perceive time? Why does time appear to flow only in one direction? Is time travel possible? How is time relative? We will explore the perception of time across cultures and eras, construct an appreciation of the arrow of time by designing and building a Rube Goldberg machine, and discuss scientific articles and science-inspired works of fiction to make sense of this fascinating topic. Time stops for no one, but let’s take some time to appreciate its uniqueness.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Physics

20th-Century Physics Through Three Pivotal Papers

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

This course takes an in-depth look at three pivotal papers in 20th-century physics pertaining to special relativity and fundamental interpretations of quantum mechanics that transformed and defined our way of thinking in modern science. In this seminar-style class, we will deeply read, dissect, and discuss these three primary sources. In the process, we will together derive the predictions of special relativity; debate the various interpretations of quantum mechanics revolving around the famous Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen (EPR) paradox; and explore experiments meant to test our fundamental understanding of quantum mechanics.

Faculty

Chaos

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course introduces the beautiful world of nonlinear and chaotic dynamics and also provides the mathematical and numerical tools to explore the astounding patterns that can arise from these inherently unpredictable systems. We shall see how chaos emerges from fairly simple nonlinear dynamical systems; utilize numerical methods to simulate the dynamics of chaotic systems; and explore characteristics of chaos using iterated maps, bifurcation diagrams, phase space, Poincaré sections, Lyapunov exponents, and fractal dimensions. Class time will oscillate between the presentation of new material and workshops for hands-on exploration. Students are encouraged to build and/or analyze their own chaotic system as potential conference projects. No previous programming experience is required, and all relevant mathematical concepts will be introduced.

Faculty

Classical Mechanics (Calculus-Based General Physics)

Open, Lecture—Fall

Calculus-based general physics is a standard course at most institutions; as such, this course will prepare you for more advanced work in physical science, engineering, or the health fields. (Alternatively, the algebra-based Introduction to Mechanics will also suffice for pre-medical students.) The course will cover introductory classical mechanics, including dynamics, kinematics, momentum, energy, and gravity. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including problem solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, use of technology, and development and execution of experiments. The best way to develop scientific skills is to practice the scientific process. We will focus on learning physics through discovering, testing, analyzing, and applying fundamental physics concepts in an interactive classroom and in workshop-style group conferences. In addition to lectures and group conferences, the class will meet weekly to conduct laboratory work.

Faculty

Electromagnetism and Light (Calculus-Based General Physics)

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

This is the follow-on course to Classical Mechanics, covering topics from electromagnetism and optics. Please see the description of Classical Mechanics for further information on this sequence.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: It's About Time

Open, FYS—Year

This seminar will explore the topic of time from a wide variety of viewpoints—from the physical to the metaphysical to the practical. We will seek the answers to questions such as: What is time? How do we perceive time? Why does time appear to flow only in one direction? Is time travel possible? How can I make the most use of my time? We will discuss Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, explore the perception of time across cultures and eras, construct an appreciation of the arrow of time by designing and building a Rube Goldberg machine, as well as learn some useful time-management skills. Time stops for no one, but we will pause to appreciate its uniqueness.

Faculty

Resonance and Its Applications

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

This is a lab-based course designed to teach students critical advanced laboratory skills while exploring the fascinating phenomenon of resonance and its many applications. The course will be broken into three main units: mechanical resonators, electronic resonators, and quantum mechanical resonators. Resonators are physical systems that undergo periodic motion and react quite dramatically to being driven at particular frequencies (like the opera singer hitting just the right note to break a wine glass). These systems are very common in everyday life, as well as inside many important technological devices. Each unit will explore a particular application of resonance (e.g., building an AM radio receiver for electronic resonance and using our benchtop NMR system to explore quantum mechanical resonance). Although some class time will be spent going over the relevant theory, the majority of the class time will be spent designing and doing experiments using advanced lab equipment, analyzing data using Jupyter (iPython) notebooks, and reporting the results using LaTeX. For conference work, students are encouraged to develop their own experimental question, design their own experiment to answer that question, do the experiment, analyze the data, and present their findings at the Science and Mathematics Poster Session.

Faculty

Time to Tinker

Open, Seminar—Spring

Do you enjoy designing and building things? Do you have lots of ideas about things that you wished existed but do not feel you have enough technical knowledge to create it yourself? This course is meant to give an introduction to tinkering, with a focus on learning the practical physics behind basic mechanical and electronic components and providing the opportunity to build things yourself. We will have weekly, three-hour workshops in the physics lab, along with individual biweekly conference meetings. The course will be broken down into multiple units, including tools of the trade, mechanics, 3D printing, simple electronics, introduction to Arduino, and the engineering design process. Each unit will include a small group project to demonstrate the new skills that you have acquired. In addition, there will be weekly homework assignments, where you will need to create or bring in something related to the topic at hand. For your individual conference project, you will be developing your own engineered piece, with a report on its design and desired function, as well as any necessary material required for others to replicate the results (within desired copyright restrictions).

Faculty