James McDonald

Associate Dean of Finance; Associate Professor and Chair, Physics

Dean's Office for A & S, Physics

College of Arts and Sciences
860.768.4518 Dana 220

PhD, University of Connecticut

BS, Clarkson University

I am an accelerator physicist with experience in low-energy measurements in astrophysics and applied radiation protection.  The main reactions of interest to me are those in the p-p chain that contribute to the production of solar neutrinos.  My dissertation work was done at UConn, Yale and UCL (in Belgium) and involved measuring the cross section for the reaction 7Li(d, p)8Li, which yields the S17  factor.  My experience with building unusual chambers and detector arrays has been applied to projects in places such as the Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory at Yale University, the High Intensity Gamma Source at Duke University, the Institut de Physique Nucléaire at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and the Wiezmann Institute of Science in Israel.

I am an educator who specializes in teaching introductory physics to pre-medical majors and using other subjects, like art or science fiction, to illustrate scientific concepts to students in both the K-12 and college levels.  My recent experience with the UIS course Science in Art has produced an interest into how people perceive and react to color in the visual arts.  In the arena of science fiction, I am particularly interested in the space elevator and all aspects of the “punk” sub-genres: cyperpunk, steampunk, and now biopunk. 

I actively embrace the use of emerging technologies in the classroom.  I have been podcasting the lectures for my introductory classes since 2005, use open source textbooks in PHY 120 and 121, and am now exploring the use of iPads in the classroom.  I feel that the changing formats of information has trained people to learn in different ways and that teachers should adapt this to their courses.

Finally, I am an Advisor for Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity.  We are an open fraternity that promotes leadership, friendship and service to the campus and the community.  The chapter at the University of Hartford, Alpha Zeta Beta, was chartered in 2006.  Previously I was an active Brother at the Mu Omicron chapter at Clarkson University and was an Advisor at the Delta Sigma chapter at UConn for twelve years.