Heather Whitney, Ph.D.

Physics Department

Assistant Professor of Physics
On Faculty since 2010

Office: Science Center 362
Phone: (630)752-5897
Fax: (630)752-5996
Email:

Education

Vanderbilt University Ph.D., Physics, 2009

Vanderbilt University M.S., Medical Physics, 2007 

Vanderbilt University M.S., Physics, 2006

King College, B.S. (summa cum laude), Physics and Performing and Visual Arts, 2003

About Heather Whitney

Dr. Whitney does research in the area of medical physics, specifically in how the principles of physics can be used to improve the measurements made by the different medical physics imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound. She is also interested in physics education research, as well as the mathematics of music theory and the physics of musical instruments, particularly the piano. 

She and her husband are local food enthusiasts and enjoy supporting farmers markets and locally-owned restaurants, as well as cooking at home. Somewhat relatedly, they also enjoy running and lifting weights.


Courses Taught

  • General Physics I
  • General Physics II
  • Analytical Mechanics
  • Physics of Music
  • Modern Science Skills Laboratory
  • Computer Modeling
  • Introduction to Medical Physics

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA)
  • American Physical Society
  • American Association of Physics Teachers 
  • American Association of Physicists in Medicine
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
  • Sigma Pi Sigma

Research

Dr. Whitney is interested in the basic physics research that goes into developing tools and techniques for medical physics. Her dissertation connected the radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging branches of medical physics in its focus of characterizing and better understanding three-dimensional dosimeters, made of gelatin and polymers, which can be analyzed using magnetic resonance imaging. These dosimeters can be used to measure the complex radiation therapy fields produced by modern treatment planning systems, but there is much work to be done in better understanding the dose response of the dosimeters. She is currently focusing her efforts on nuclear magnetic resonance measurements of the relaxation of water protons in the presence of macromolecules, a key area of investigation needed to better understand the workings of the polymer gel dosimeters.

Additionally, Dr. Whitney is doing research with Dr. Brian Hunt of the Wheaton College Applied Health Science department. Together, they are formulating methods for automatic measurement of the lumen diameter of the carotid artery as detected by ultrasound.

Dr. Whitney is also interested in physics education research for the improvement of the teaching of physics, and the incorporation of new and emerging technologies to enhance the classroom experience.

Publications

McMillan M,* Blasing D,* and Whitney H M. (2013) Radial Forcing and Edgar Allan Poe's Lengthening Pendulum. Am. J. Phys. 81, 682-687.
*Student researcher

Whitney H M, Gochberg D F, and Gore J C (2008) Magnetization transfer proportion: a simplified measure of magnetization transfer in polymer gel dosimeters. Phys. Med. Biol. 53, 7107-7124.

Luci J J, Whitney H M and Gore J C (2007) Optimization of MAGIC gel formulation for three-dimensional radiation therapy dosimetry. Phys. Med. Biol. 52, N241.

Conference Presentations

Whitney H M. (2013) Light as a Model for Fourier Analysis of Complex Sound Waves. American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

Whitney H M. (2011) Development of active learning tools for a course on physics and music. American Association of Physics Teachers Summer Meeting, Omaha, NE.

Whitney H M. (2010) Clicker program implementation at a small liberal arts university. American Association of Physics Teachers Winter meeting, Washington, DC.

Whitney H M, Gochberg D F and Gore J C (2006) Magnetization transfer in polymer gel dosimeters. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 56, 253-255.

Whitney H M and Gore J C (2006) Measurement of particle size in polymer gel dosimeters using spectrophotometry. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 56, 160-16.

Conference Posters

Kwong, Zachary S.* and Whitney H M. (2012) Development and characterization of NMR measurements for polymer gel dosimetry. In Bulletin of the American Physical Society. (April Meeting of the American Physical Society.) *Student researcher, received an award for "An Outstanding Presentation of Undergraduate Research" from the Society of Physics Students.

Whitney, H M. (2011) Magnetization transfer and relaxation properties of MAGIC-2 polymer gel dosimeters at high field. Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Magnetic Resonance.

Whitney H M. (2010) Using Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded in a course module on energy and the environment. American Association of Physics Teachers 2010 Winter Conference.

Li Ke, Zu Z, Xu J, Gore J C, Whitney H M, Gochberg D F. (2009) Optimization of Quantitative Magnetization Transfer Imaging using a Selective Inversion Recovery Pulse. International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine International Conference.

Whitney H M, Gochberg D F, Joers J J, Gore J C (2008) Cross-relaxation in methacrylic acid-based dosimetry gels. International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine International Conference.

Whitney H M, Ding G X, Coffey C W and Gore J C (2007) Gel dosimetry for measuring a complex 3D dose distribution in stereotactic radiosurgery. American Association of Physicists in Medicine Conference. Med. Phys. 34, 2393-2393.

Other Writing

Your Brain on Music. (2013) Books & Culture, March/April 2013.

Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition. (2012) Books & Culture: Science in Focus, online exclusive.

Review of Why Geology Matters. (2012) CCCU Advance.

Why Geology Matters, Part 3. (2012) Books & Culture: Science in Focus, online exclusive.

Oscillators for Singers. (2011) Comment. Reposted by the BioLogos Forum Blog.

RIP: Edward W. Burke, Jr. (2011) Books & Culture, online exclusive.

Media Center