Seamus Lagan,
Physics Dept.,
Whittier College,
Whittier, Ca. 90608
(562) 907-4200 X4458



Ph.D. 1984, Lehigh University, Bethlehem,Pa.
M.S. 1979, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.
B.A. 1976, Dublin Univ., Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


2005-present.......Whittier College, Prof. of Physics


1988-2005.......Whittier College, Assoc. Prof. of Physics

1984-1988..........Dickinson College, Asst. Prof. of Physics.


Courses Taught

Introductory Astronomy
Fundamentals of Physics: (2-semester calc.-based intro. physics course)
Introductory Optics and Modern Physics
Introductory Waves and Thermodynamics
Introductory Kinematics and Mechanics
Modern Physics
Advanced Modern Physics
Statistical Physics
Oscillations and Waves
Electromagnetic Theory
Quantum Mechanics
Mathematical Physics
Computational Oscillations and Waves

Chaos in Science and Literature

What is Reality?


Whittier Scholars Senior Projects Sponsored at Whittier College

1993, Project carried out by Kolya Kaposhilin
"Introductory Science - An Investment in Our Future.
A Study of Undergraduate Introductory Science Curricula
and a Proposal for their Modernization."

1995, Project carried out by Bart Hutton
"The Physics and Form of Renewable Energy - A Workshop."

Research Projects with Undergraduates

Whittier College, 2003 - 2004


Animation of a sheared foam. 1

COMPUTER SIMULATION OF A SHEARED FOAM. The project is aimed at looking for self-organized critical (SOC) behavior in a molecular dynamics simulation of a foam of bubbles moving in a region between sliding walls. Preliminary computer code was developed by Ghalib Bello.

Whittier College, 1998 - 2000

SEARCH FOR CHAOTIC SOLUTIONS TO SIMPLE THIRD-ORDER DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS. Georgi Gospodinov has carried out numerical solution of differential equations using Mathematica and C. Code has been written to calculate phase space trajectories, Lyapunov exponents, and box-counting dimension. A search of parameter space for chaotic regions has been carried out. Georgi gave a presentation of his work at the Southern California Council for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) meeting in Fall 1999 at Loyola Marymount University.

Whittier College, 1996 - 1997

SELF-ORGANIZED CRITICALITY IN A FOREST FIRE MODEL: Investigation of the power law dependencies of cluster sizes on lattice type in a computer model of a burning forest. Three students (Joshua Worley, Tina Bachanos and Kevin St.Jean) were involved in this project. The students presented their results as a poster at the Southern California Council for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) meeting in Spring 1997 at Occidental College.

Dickinson College, 1987 - 1988

CHAOTIC BEHAVIOR OF A SIMPLE MECHANICAL SYSTEM: An undergraduate research project involving the construction of a non-linear torsional pendulum andthe analysis of its behavior. A total of five students (Phillip Williams, Nicholas Bates, Ingrid Barclay, Annmarie Haley and Jeffry Mount) were involved in this project over a period of two semesters and one summer. Phil Williams continued work of this project and gave a presentation of his results at an American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) meeting at Lehigh University.

Workshops Attended

June 11 – 19, 2005 BioQUEST 2005 Summer Faculty Workshop “Investigating Interdisciplinary Interactions”
Beloit College, Beloit, WI

August 8 – 12, 2003 “SENCER Summer Institute” (Science Education for new Civic Engagements and Responsibilities)
Santa Clara University, San Jose, CA

July 21 – 28, 2002 “Using Computers in Undergraduate Physics.”
Lawrence University, Appleton, WI

July 15 - 26, 1998 “Teaching Introductory Physics, Conservation Laws First: An NSF Faculty Enhancement Conference.”
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

June 14-26, 1992 "Using New Technologies to Teach Physics: A Leadership Development Workshop."
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Co.

June 1990 "N.S.F. Summer Seminar on Interactive Physics".
A 2-week workshop. Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.

June 4 - 10, 1989 "Teaching Science Through Technology."
Joint Science Center, The Claremont Colleges, Claremont, Ca.


“Computational Oscillations and Waves”
An invited poster presentation given at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) National Summer Meeting, Syracuse University, July 26, 2006

Exploring Cancer Incidence Rates: Creating the Multi-hit Model of Cancer in STELLA.”
A presentation given in June 2005 at the BioQUEST 2005 Summer Faculty Workshop
Beloit College, Beloit, WI

The Perceived Usefulness of Three Aspects of Workshop Physics”.
A poster presentation given at the NSF Faculty Enhancement Conference at Harvard University,
July 15 - 26, 1998.

Chaos and Percolation Theory: involving undergraduates.”
PARSEC Meeting, The Webb School, Feb. 1998

"Computer Simulations of Inelastic Collisions to Emphasize the Conservation of Total Energy"
American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) National Summer Meeting, U. of Maine, Aug. 14, 1992

Sink or Float (Archimedes Revisited)” and
Newton, Hooke and Bungee”.
Two presentations given in June 1992 at the Leadership Development Workshop
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Co.

"The Macintosh in Introductory Physics"
AAPT Southern California Section Meeting, Nov 10, 1990

Using “Interactive Physics” from Knowledge Revolution to examine elastic and inelastic collisions and the relationship between impulse and momentum change.
June 1990 N.S.F. Summer Seminar on Interactive Physics
Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.


Chaos: Connecting Science and the Humanities”
by Seamus Lagan and David Paddy.
Journal of College Science Teaching, January/February 2005, 31-35.

"A Simple Hallway Demonstration of Chaos"
by Seamus Lagan.
Physics Teacher, 29, 461 (1991)

"Kinetic Theory for a Weakly-Associated Diatomic Gas with Reactions"
by Seamus Lagan and James A.McLennan.
Physica 128A (1984) 178-206

On-line Publications

Exploring Cancer Incidence Rates: Creating the Multi-hit Model of Cancer in STELLA.
A project developed at the BioQUEST 2005 Summer Faculty Workshop “Investigating Interdisciplinary Interactions” Published on the World Wide Web at

Teaching materials for use in introductory physics courses. Developed at the NSF 1998 Faculty Enhancement Conference Teaching Introductory Physics, Conservation Laws First. Published on the World Wide Web at

Grants Received

Summer 1995

Participant in a FIPSE Dissemination Program organized through Dickinson College. A grant of $20,000 was received to introduce or expand the use of Workshop Physics pedagogy in introductory physics classes.

Summer 1990

NSF Instrumentation and Lab Improvement (ILI) grant #9050621 entitled "Introductory Physics Computer Laboratory for Undergraduates" worth $23,468.

March 1990

Through Apple Computer's Higher Education Development Donation program, awarded computer hardware worth $31,260 for use in Introductory Physics.


Listed in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” 2003-2004, 2004-2005

Awarded the Whittier College, Harry Nerhood Teaching Excellence Award, Spring 2000.

Listed in "Who's Who in American Education" 4th Edition (1994 - 1995)

Current Interests


The use of computer technology in the teaching of undergraduate Physics, especially in an interactive environment with students working in groups.

The incorporation of computation into the undergraduate Physics major, especially at the upper level.

Complex behavior in simple systems e.g.chaos, self-organization.