Michael Durst

Assistant Professor of Physics

 Academic Year 2018 - 2019: on leave
 on leave academic year
 B.S. Georgetown 2003, Ph.D. Cornell 2009


My biomedical optics research involves looking deep within the body without making an incision. This is similar to ultrasound imaging, except I am interested in using light instead of sound. Light provides superior resolution, allowing you to see details on the cellular level. How can you see through the body? If you have ever looked at a flashlight pressed under your hand, you have witnessed light traveling through thick tissue. Biomedical imaging entails using lasers, nonlinear optics, and other clever tools to extract images from beneath the surface of biological tissue. With applications in cancer research, nanoparticle characterization, fiber optic endoscopes, and in vivo imaging, these efforts together will provide access to a wide array of unlabeled biological structures. By combining concepts in condensed matter physics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, optics, and biology, this area of research is ideal for undergraduate learning and an enrichment of their understanding of physics.


Previously, I served as a visiting assistant professor of physics at Bates College. Before that, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. I did my graduate research in nonlinear biomedical optics at the School of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University (Ph.D. in applied physics, 2009). My passion for optics began as an undergraduate at Georgetown University (B.S. in physics, 2003), and I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm with the students at Middlebury College starting in the Fall of 2014.

Research Website




Keuren, Edward Van, Elena Georgieva, and Michael E Durst. Kinetics Of The Growth Of Anthracene Nanoparticles. Journal of Dispersion Science and Technology 24.5 (2003): 721 - 729. Web. Journal Of Dispersion Science And Technology.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

PHYS 0109 - Newtonian Physics      

Newtonian Physics
This calculus-based course examines motion as it occurs throughout the universe. Topics covered include inertia, force, Newton's laws of motion, work and energy, linear momentum, collisions, gravitation, rotational motion, torque, angular momentum, and oscillatory motion. Emphasis is on practical applications in physics, engineering, the life sciences, and everyday life. Laboratory work and lecture demonstrations illustrate basic physical principles. (MATH 0121 or MATH 0122 concurrent or prior; students who have taken high school calculus or other college calculus courses should consult with the instructor prior to registration) 3 hrs. lect/3 hrs. lab. DED SCI

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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PHYS 0111 - Thermo, Fluids, Waves & Optics      

Thermodynamics, Fluids, Wave Motion, and Optics
This calculus-based lecture and laboratory course covers concepts from classical physics that are not included in PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0110, and that serve as a bridge between those two courses. Topics include thermal properties of matter, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, wave motion, sound, and geometrical and physical optics. This course is strongly recommended for all students otherwise required to take PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0110 as part of a major or a premedical program, and is required for physics majors. (PHYS 0109, MATH 0121, or equivalent) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. DED SCI

Spring 2018

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PHYS 0241 - Biomedical Imaging      

Biomedical Imaging
Why do we use microscopes for thin tissue slices but x-rays for imaging through the entire body? In this course we will explore the physics of light and life through various biomedical imaging techniques. We will apply the fundamental imaging concepts of resolution, aberration, diffraction, scattering, the Fourier transform, and deconvolution. Most of the course will focus on biomedical optics, including standard optical microscopes, fluorescence imaging, spectroscopy, fiber-optic endoscopes, and laser-scanning microscopes. The latter part of the course will cover non-optical imaging, such as ultrasound, x-ray, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Students will gain hands-on experience through field trips to a local hospital and the use of the Cell Imaging Facility in McCardell Bicentennial Hall. (PHYS 0111; PHYS 0212 or MATH 0223) 3 hrs. lect. DED SCI

Fall 2015, Spring 2017

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PHYS 0301 - Intermediate Electromagnetism      

Intermediate Electromagnetism
The unified description of electricity and magnetism is one of the greatest triumphs of physics. This course provides a thorough grounding in the nature of electric and magnetic fields and their interaction with matter. Mathematical techniques appropriate to the solution of problems in electromagnetism are also introduced. The primary emphasis is on static fields, with the full time-dependent Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves introduced in the final part of the course. (PHYS 0110, PHYS 0201, PHYS 0212) 3 hrs. lect.

Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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PHYS 0321 - Experimental Physics      

Experimental Techniques in Physics
This course will cover the design and execution of experiments, and the analysis and presentation of data, at an advanced level. Laboratory experiments will be chosen to illustrate the use of electronic, mechanical, and optical instruments to investigate fundamental physical phenomena, such as the properties of atoms and nuclei and the nature of radiation. Skills in computer-based data analysis and presentation will be developed and emphasized. This course satisfies the College writing requirement. (PHYS 0201 and PHYS 0202 and PHYS 0212; MATH 0200 recommended) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. (Approval required) CW

Spring 2017, Fall 2017

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PHYS 0500 - Ind. Study & Special Topic      

Independent Study and Special Topics
(Approval required)

Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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PHYS 0704 - Senior Project      

Senior Project
Independent research project culminating in both written and oral presentations.

Fall 2017

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PHYS 0705 - Senior Research & Thesis      

Senior Research and Thesis
Independent research in the fall, winter, and spring terms culminating in a written thesis (two units total). (Approval required)

Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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Department of Physics

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753