DJ Wagner

Professor of Physics
All FacultyPhysics

Contact Information
Phone: 724-458-3789

DJ Wagner

What is your educational background?

  • Ph.D. Theoretical Particle Physics, Vanderbilt University, 1997
  • M.S. Theoretical Particle Physics, Vanderbilt University, 1994
  • B.S. Physics and English, The College of William and Mary, 1991

What are the main focuses of your research?

Physics Education Research – understanding how students learn physics and applying results of that research to designing materials that address persistent difficulties and better facilitate the learning process.

What specific courses or specialties do you teach?

I love teaching the general education physics class Fundamentals of the Universe because I think producing a scientifically literate society is very important. In this class, students are asked to identify physics outside of the classroom. I enjoy teaching sophomore physics majors Introduction to Theoretical Physics, in which we assemble the mathematical toolbox they will need for upper-level physics courses.

What is the most important piece of advice you give your students to help them succeed?

Take advantage of available resources, and don’t try to go it alone. Science is a collaborative endeavor, and learning science should also be collaborative. Find a study group of peers, and don’t be hesitant to come to faculty office hours. Get to know your professors outside of the classroom as an academic and professional research, but also so they can write detailed recommendations for you.


  • “Why Join a Professional Society?” SPS Observer Spring-Summer 2016
  • “Prepping for Congress: Reflections on Getting Ready for the Big Event,” SPS Observer Winter 2015
  • “Similar Density Questions with Very Different Results” with Grove City College students A. Lindow and E. Carbone, 2013 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
  • “Exploring Student Difficulties with Buoyancy” with Grove City College students A. Lindow and E. Carbone, 2013 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
  • “Exploring Student Difficulties with Pressure in a Fluid" with Grove City College students M. Goszewski, A. Moyer, Z. Bazan, 2012 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
  • The Science of Information Technology, an electronic text found at

Is there any additional personal experience you would like for us to share?

I am very involved in the Society of Physics Students (SPS), the professional society for physics students and their mentors. I advise the SPS chapter here on campus (called the Physics Club), received the SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor award for the 2009-2010 academic year, and I have served on the National Council of SPS for 11 years, as president from 2013-2017. Several of our students have also served on the National Council, and we have taken groups to regional zone meetings as well as to national PhysCon meetings. Being a member of professional organizations is an important component of professionalism, providing opportunities for professional development, networking, career information, etc., and I have enjoyed working with SPS to help students become part of the global physics community. I am also an avid handbell ringer, ringing in my church bell choir and a community bell choir as well as advising the college bell choir.