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Applied Physics, with its various emphases, is an exciting and innovative new major at Bethel. Our goal is to produce graduates equipped for high-technology employment, interdisciplinary research, and graduate education in applied science and engineering.

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Why should I study applied physics with a biomedical emphasis?

Because physics is the foundation for virtually all technology, it's not surprising that the rapidly emerging and diverse fields of biotechnology lean heavily on a knowledge of basic physics. The Biomedical emphasis within the B.S. in Applied Physics is designed to provide students with not only a strong background in physics, but also experience using physics in a lab setting. The major also incorporates key courses in biology, where students learn about physiology, anatomy, and cellular biology. As a result, students are particularly prepared for careers in biotechnical fields.

What can I do with this degree?

A B.S. in Applied Physics with a Biomedical emphasis provides excellent preparation for graduate work in medical physics, biomedical engineering, or medical school. Our students have gone on to receive doctorates in medical physics from schools like the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin. Some alumni do research with MRI, tracing the path of antioxidants and vitamins through the brain—research that is proving valuable in the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Others have worked on improving artificial knee joints and legs. Still others have developed the first wireless controls for artificial hearts.

The Twin Cities is a key location for many of the largest biotechnology companies in the world, such as 3M, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and St. Jude Medical. At the same time there are almost countless smaller, startup biotech companies in the area. For example, MTL in Bloomington has hired more than a half-dozen of our physics students in the last several years.

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

There are many aspects of physics that contribute directly to biotechnology. One example is the use of lasers and optics, and Bethel’s Physics and Engineering Department has outstanding laboratory facilities in this area. Another important area of medical physics is nanotechnology. The department has a NanoLab equipped with a modern Scanning Electron Microscope, a Force Probe Microscope, and a standard, research-grade Optical Microscope. These instruments are all used by Bethel students as they push nanotechnology forward—publishing and presenting papers at national, professional conferences and frequently winning awards. Examples of nanotech medical applications include sensors that are small enough to embed in the wall of a human heart, a “nano-nose” that can sniff out and determine minute quantities of various gasses, and a “lab-on-a-chip” that can give full blood work results almost instantly from only a drop of blood.

Mayo Clinic is a good example of a source of external opportunities for our student. Bethel has had multiple physics students participate in internship programs at Mayo Clinic, graduates in grad school at Mayo Clinic, and a former student doing her post-doctorate at Mayo. Bethel also is a participating institution with the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program with Minnesota Private Colleges. The program joins undergraduate students in sciences and business with MBA students to research and prepare a presentation on a specific project under consideration by the Mayo Ventures. 

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Physics alum recognized for innovation in Forbes' 30 Under 30 - Energy list

- Forbes 2018

Top 15

undergrad physics program nationally, by size

- American Institute of Physics

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