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Mark P. Haugan

Associate Professor of Physics and Associate Department Head

haugan@purdue.edu
Office: Physics 282
Telephone: (765) 494-5504
Fax: (765) 494-0706

B.S., Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, McMaster University, 1974
Ph.D., Physics, Stanford University, 1978

Research Interests

Conceptual and Empirical Foundations of Relativity and Gravitation Physics and Physics Education Research and Development.

Research Activities

  1. Conceptual and Empirical Foundations of Relativity and Gravitation Physics
    My theoretical work is primarily focussed on finding new opportunities to test the fundamental principles of gravitation physics and on intepreting the results of experiments and astronomical observations performed as such tests. Despite the remarkable successes of General Relativity this remains an active area of research. There are at least two reasons for this.
    One is that conceptual and technical difficulties continue to bedevil theorists' efforts to quantize gravity and to unify it with the other fundamental interactions. Consequently, research on quantization and unification is a steady source of entirely new theoretical possibilities to be tested. For example, many quantization and unification schemes introduce higher-rank tensor fields like torsion or the Kalb-Ramond field of string theory. Recently, I have been analyzing effects caused by couplings between such fields and matter. With astronomer Dr. Sami Solanki, director of the Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Katlenburg-Lindau, I am involved in a program to use solar and white-dwarf observations to constrain these possibilities.
    Advances in technology provide a second reason that experimental gravitation physics remains an active field. For example, the expected precision of atomic clocks under development for the International Space Station and the development of atom interferometry make it possible to refine classic experimental tests as well as to perform tests of entirely new kinds. With Dr. Claus Lammerzahl of the Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet Duesseldorf and others, I am analyzing ways to use new tools like these to learn more about the coupling of matter to gravity.
  2. Physics Education Research and Development
    One of the more trenchant generalizations that Dr. Lillian McDermott, leader of the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Washington, draws from years of experimental study focussed on the identification and analysis of student difficulties and on the development and testing of instructional strategies designed to address them is that "A coherent conceptual framework is not typically the outcome of traditional physics instruction." My experience with seemingly elementary conceptual, and associated technical, difficulties that still plague students in my upper-level classes is far from inconsistent with this claim, and I have become aware and increasingly interested and involved in this sort of research and development as I have tried to pin down the nature of these difficulties and to help students overcome them.
    Beginning in the Fall of 2001 I will offer a new version of the freshman physics course taken by prospective majors that is built around the Matter and Interactions curriculum developed by Bruce Sherwood and Ruth Chabay of Carnegie Mellon University. The coherence of their research-based curriculum stems from a consistent focus on the microscopic structure of matter and the few fundamental principles that underlie the behavior of matter. Students use these powerful principles to construct models that explain and predict the familiar phenomena of classical mechanics and thermal physics.
    I am seeking outside funding to support work that extends this modeling approach to treat Galilean and Special Relativity and to test my conviction that a modeling approach can help students develop a deeper understanding of the role mathematics plays in physics.

Professional Experience

  • Associate Professor of Physics, Purdue University, 1988-present (Associate Department Head 2013 - )
  • Assistant Professor of Physics, Purdue University, 1983-88
  • Chercheur Associe, Laboratoire de Physique, Institut Henri Poincaré, Paris, 1988
  • Research Associate, Laboratory of Nuclear Studies and Center for · Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University, 1980-83
  • Research Fellow and Lecturer, Projecktgruppe fur Laserforschung der Max-Planck Gesellschaft, Munich, West Germany, 1980
  • Instructor in Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Utah, 1978-80

Selected Publications

  1. On the Interpretation of Modern Versions of the Michelson-Morley Experiment, C. Lammerzahl and Mark P. Haugan, to appear J. Phys. A (2001).
  2. Limits on Gravity-Induced Depolarization of Light from White Dwarf Grw +70º 8247, S.K. Slanki, Mark P. Haugan and R.B. Mann, Phys. Rev. D 59, 047101 (1999).
  3. New Constraints on Gravity-Induced Birefringence, S.K. Solanki and Mark P. Haugan, Phys. Rev. D 53, 997 (1996).
  4. A New Test of the Einstein Equivalence Principle and the Isotropy of Space, T. Kauffmann and Mark P. Haugan, Phys. Rev. D 52, 3168 (1995).
  5. A New Test of Nonsymmetric Theories of Gravity: Observational Limits on Gravity-Induced Depolarization of Solar Spectral Lines, M.D. Gabriel, Mark P. Haugan, R.B. Mann and J.H. Palmer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 67, 2123 (1991).