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About Our Department

Meet Our Faculty

Research Opportunities

Programs Offered
--Physics B.A., B.S. & Concentration
--Engineering Physics Dual Degree (3/2)
--The Independently Designed Major
--Course Descriptions

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Winfree Observatory
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About Tom Michalik

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       Tom Michalik grew up in northern New Jersey. He earned a BS degree in Engineering Science/Physics from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, and then MA and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Temple University in Philadelphia. NJIT was characterized by a well-known bullet hole in the cafeteria window. So Dr. Michalik was quite astounded to arrive at Randolph in 1977 to find students singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by candlelight.

       Dr. Michalik was trained as a theoretical physicist with special interest in the theory of general relativity. When his thesis title, “Homogeneous Cosmologies With Strong Neutrino Fields”, was first announced to the Randolph faculty, spontaneous laughter erupted. Soon after the mirth subsided Dr. Michalik realized the irrelevance of general relativity to his work at Randolph. He has since devoted himself to three things: developing the ability to teach most of the courses in a rigorous curriculum for physics majors, increasing the number of physics faculty, and developing Winfree Observatory into a well-equipped small college observatory suitable for student and faculty research.

       Completely uninterested in campus politics, Dr. Michalik devotes all his energy to the courses he teaches and his observatory work. Theoretically minded students usually do their senior research projects with Dr. Michalik, and those interested in astronomy or astrophysics can work with him at Winfree Observatory. On nearly every clear night Dr. Michalik can be found at Winfree Observatory testing his tolerance for cold and sleep deprivation. He has contributed more than 3,000 variable star measurements to the international database of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.


Department of Physics
Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503
tel.: (434) 947-8488   fax: (434) 947-8333