Charles Niederriter


Chuck grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, a fairly diverse blue collar town on the shores of Lake Erie.His childhood was full of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling.After attending St. Marks Seminary High School, he went on to GannonCollege (now GannonUniversity) to study physics.Gannon was similar to Gustavus in many ways, but different in that it had an engineering program.So, the physics program at Gannon was small.Chuck had one classmate in his graduating class in physics.Being small had its advantages, though.Chuck was involved in several research projects with local companies and had many opportunities for work after graduation.But, he chose to go on to graduate study in physics, initially at IowaStateUniversity, and eventually at OhioUniversity.

At Ohio, Chuck took graduate courses in all areas of physics before beginning work on a project in surface science that stemmed from one of his undergraduate research projects.When some major roadblocks popped up in this project, he decided to use it for a Masters thesis and move to more traditional condensed matter physics for a Ph.D. project.This work in the electrical and optical properties of chalcogenide glasses proceeded quickly and Chuck was able to finish both the Masters and Ph.D. in 1985.By this time Chuck's wife, Debbie, had finished her Masters in physical acoustics, and they and one-year old son, Brad, moved to St. Peter to begin teaching at Gustavus.

Since coming to Gustavus, Chuck has taught virtually every course that the Physics Department offers, from introductory to upper level.During several J-Terms, he co-taught Materials Science with Professor Larry Potts from Chemistry.He and wife, Debbie, have co-taught the Astronomy of the Southern Skies course in New Zealand and Australia several times in January.Chuck has served on virtually all of the standing committees of the faculty, as well as many others.He did a two-year stint as co-director of General Education, with Professor David Fienen, and is currently the Director of the Nobel Conference.

Chuck continues to involve students in his research.For many years, that consisted primarily of electrical and optical properties of glasses and production and properties of thin polymer films.Occasionally there would be time for an astrophysics project, like the building a super-computer application to simulate the formation of the Solar System.Recently many of the projects have revolved around renewable energy.With a lot of student help, Chuck, Professor Jeff Jeremiason, and others have been exploring the feasibility of producing electricity for the campus with wind turbines.They have also studied the use of photovoltaics and energy storage systems, like hydrogen and batteries, as options for Gustavus.


B.S. Gannon, 1978; M.S., Ph.D. Ohio, 1985

Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHY-320Astrophysics Lab92016/SP, 2012/SP, 2010/SP, 2008/SP, 2005/SP, 2003/SP, 2001/SP, and 1999/SP
PHY-241Classical Physics III Lab82010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2001/FA, and 2000/FA
PHY-300Mechanics72016/FA, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, 2003/FA, and 2002/FA
PHY-320Astrophysics72016/SP, 2012/SP, 2010/SP, 2008/SP, 2005/SP, 2001/SP, and 1999/SP
PHY-201Classical Physics I Lab72005/FA, 2004/FA, 2003/FA, 2002/FA, and 2001/FA
PHY-360Optics Lab62015/SP, 2009/SP, 2006/SP, and 2002/SP
PHY-102Astronomy, Cosmology, and Astrophysics62009/FA, 2004/SP, 2003/SP, 2002/SP, 2001/SP, and 1999/SP
PHY-365Project in Physics52016/SP, 2015/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, and 2008/SP
PHY-112Australia/NZ Astronomy52011/JN, 2009/JN, 2005/JN, 2003/JN, and 2001/JN
PHY-196Cosmic Universe Lab42015/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, and 2011/FA
PHY-360Optics42015/SP, 2009/SP, 2006/SP, and 2002/SP
PHY-221Classical Physics II Lab42011/SP, 2004/SP, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
PHY-171General Physics II Lab42008/SP and 2005/SP
PHY-206Mechanical Univ Lab32016/SP, 2015/SP, and 2012/SP
PHY-121General Physics I Lab32015/FA
PHY-195Cosmic Universe32013/FA, 2012/FA, and 2011/FA
PHY-240Classical Physics III32007/FA, 2001/FA, and 2000/FA
PHY-200Classical Physics I32005/FA, 2004/FA, and 2003/FA
PHY-205Mechanical Universe22016/SP and 2015/SP
PHY-350Electromagnetic Theory22013/SP and 2006/SP
FTS-100First Term Seminar22010/FA and 2007/FA
PHY-101Physical World for Elementary Education Majors22010/JN and 2008/JN
CUR-260Natural World22009/FA and 2008/FA
PHY-268Career Exploration22006/JN and 2000/JN
PHY-305Experimental Modern Physics12016/FA
PHY-305Experimental Modern Physics Lab12016/FA
PHY-215Electromag. Universe12014/FA
PHY-216Electromag. Univ. Lab12014/FA
PHY-230Applied Mathematics for Physics and Engineering12013/SP
MCS-230App Math Phy/Engineerng12013/SP
CHE-344ST:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
BIO-344ST:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
PHY-344AT:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
GEO-344ST:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
PHY-220Classical Physics II12011/SP
PHY-271Electronics and Instrumentation Lab12008/SP
PHY-172General Physics II with Calculus12005/SP
PHY-170General Physics II12005/SP
CHE-202Materials Science12002/JN
PHY-122General Physics I with Calculus12000/FA
PHY-340Condensed Matter Lab12000/SP
PHY-340Condensed Matter12000/SP
PHY-244Special Topic: Math Methods12000/SP

Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.