Jim Miller


Adjunct Instructor in Physics

When I last checked, I had ten fingers and two eyes. It’s a surprise really, when you consider my formative years under my father, a chemical engineer, and my two older brothers, one who became an analytical chemist. This set the stage for many high-speed combustion experiments in our basement and backyard. These were the days when neighbors wouldn’t blink as percussive waves threatened to loosen the nails in their siding. (As a dad, I have tried to carry on this tradition with the development of a hydrogen ping-pong ball cannon. This was first tested in our dining room to the surprise of my wife Laurie who was cooking nearby.) I also made use of my snowy Minnesota environment to fabricate possibly the only known example of a prop-driven gas-powered snowmobile which was typically unleashed on a banked snow track. The record run was 72 laps or so; documentation on this is very thin. Yes, another extremely loud pastime. You might want to stop by my office sometime and ask me why I think my ears ring.

I eventually changed my ways and became interested in physics. I credit this conversion to a high school math teacher who had a black belt in karate and a high school physics teacher with a master’s degree in physics. I studied physics at the University of Minnesota and continued in physics and mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan.

The draw of the working world and the heartfelt ideal of saving energy eventually pulled me to the Owens Corning Science and Technical Center in Granville, Ohio. Later, I worked at an instrumentation company, TSI Inc, developing and marketing optical systems for use in fluid mechanics research. And most recently, I come from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) where I worked as a building-science researcher, analyst, and software developer. I continue to work part-time for PNNL.

Even though I was raised in the Twin Cities, I have family roots in Southern Minnesota. My father and grandfather grew up in Madelia. My mother grew up on a farm between Trimont, Truman, and Fairmont.

Here at Gustavus, I serve as lab manager, lab instructor, and jack of all trades. I try to keep the department’s domain server and lab computers humming.

Even more about Mr. Miller…


B.S. University of MN (1978, Physics); M.S. University of Michigan (1980, Physics); M.S. University of Michigan (1981, Mechanical Engineering)

Courses Taught


PHY-171 (General Physics II Lab) and PHY-206 (Mechanical Univ Lab)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHY-121General Physics I Lab422014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
PHY-171General Physics II Lab272014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, and 2006/SP
PHY-221Classical Physics II Lab112011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, and 2006/SP
PHY-201Classical Physics I Lab72010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
PHY-196Cosmic Universe Lab42014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, and 2011/FA
PHY-206Mechanical Univ Lab32014/SP, 2013/SP, and 2012/SP
PHY-216Electromag. Univ. Lab12014/FA
PHY-271Electronics and Instrumentation Lab12014/SP
PHY-109Python 2D Game Prog.12013/JN