News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or

Press Release


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College has received a $500,000 grant for its physics program from the W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles. The grant will be used as a catalyst to raise funds for the $983,064 departmental enhancement project that introduces curricular and technological changes into the laboratories at all levels of the physics program, with special emphasis on the introductory level.

"We’re trying to bring some of the new technologies that have been used in intro physics labs nationwide into the Reed intro lab," said John Essick, associate physics professor. "What we hope for our program is that these new technologies help supplement research training in intro labs and introduce some open-endedness into students’ long-term work."

Over the next four years, the physics department plans to develop an entirely new introductory physics instructional laboratory, renovate the conceptual physics laboratory space, create a new laboratory staff position to support the changes in the introductory physics course, modernize the quantum physics experiments, and purchase new computers and equipment to sustain state-of-the-art advanced laboratories.

In any given year, Reed’s physics department produces 15-20 physics graduates, quadruple the number of most schools of its size and comparable to the number produced by the most prolific physics departments at large universities. In the most recent survey (1998) of the National Research Council and National Science Foundation, Reed ranks third in the nation in production of future Ph.D.s in sciences and engineering and fourth in the physical sciences. The productivity of Reed’s physics program grows out of the department’s commitment to offering four full years of laboratory instruction.

The W. M. Keck Foundation, of Los Angeles, is one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations. Established in 1954 by William Myron Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company, the foundation's grantmaking is focused primarily on the areas of medical research, science, and engineering.