Dr. Drew AltonDr. Drew Alton
Associate Professor

Dr. Alton has been a member of the faculty since 2006, teaching courses across the physics curriculum. As a particle astro-physicist, his research deals with nature’s fundamental forces and interactions.  Dr. Alton is a collaborator on DarkSide, a dark matter experiment located at Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy and collaborates with CUBED at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in the Homestake Mine near Lead, S.D. Along with his students, he has also examined older experimental data looking for dark matter candidates.  Funding for this work has been obtained from Research Corporation, the State of S.D., and the National Science Foundation, among other sources.  Dr. Alton is also the Augustana representative for the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium.  Dr. Alton received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. from Kansas State University. He was a postdoctoral fellow for the University of Michigan at FermiLab for six years on the D0 experiment.

Dr. Amy EngebretsonDr. Amy Engebretson
Adjunct Professor

Dr. Engebretson has been a member of the faculty since 2005, and has previous experience teaching at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She teaches "Introductory Physics" for life science students. She received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College, and earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University, where she studied condensed matter physics, specializing in tunneling in thin films.


Dr. Nathan GrauDr. Nathan Grau
Assistant Professor

Dr. Grau joined the faculty in 2010.  Specializing in nuclear and particle physics, he is a member of the PHENIX experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and is a past member of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. Dr. Grau obtained his undergraduate degree from Millikin University and received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University.  More recently, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Nevis Laboratories, where he also served as an adjunct faculty member in the physics department.  Dr. Grau has taught "Modern Physics," "Astronomy," "Thermal and Statistical Physics," "Atoms to Stars," and introductory programming courses.   Recent highlights from Dr. Grau's research work include the observation of dijet asymmetry from quark-gluon plasmas and the publication of an article (co-authored with an Augustana student) exploring a new method of searching for tetraquark states.

Dr. Eric WellsDr. Eric Wells
Associate Professor

Dr. Wells has been at Augustana since 2003, where he has taught numerous physics courses. His research is in the area of atomic, molecular and optical physics. He has published around 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including seven with 16 different Augustana student co-authors. Current work involving Augustana undergraduates involves using ultrafast lasers to control molecular fragmentation and rearrangement of molecular bonds. This research is part of a long-standing collaboration with the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University.  He has received funding from NASA, Research Corporation, and multiple awards from the National Science Foundation.  His educational background includes an undergraduate degree from Hastings College, a Ph.D. from Kansas State University, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Karel Vander Lugt
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Vander Lugt did his undergraduate work at Hope College and received his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in 1967.  He was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.  He began his career at Augustana in 1968 and retired in 2006.  His scholarly work includes publications ranging from solid state physics to galactic halos to an analysis of how faculty salaries correspond to tuition at small private schools. He was a visiting scholar at Cornell University and the University of Arizona.  Professor Vander Lugt taught across the physics curriculum, but was particuarlly fond of teaching general education courses. He developed the current astronomy course and the popular "Atoms to Stars" class, which is a qualitative introduction to physics and the history of science based upon Thomas Kuhn's book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." He developed and taught special courses in acoustics, chaos, and war and peace in the nuclear age.  He returns to campus from time to time to teach his "Atoms to Stars" course.