Physics & Astronomy

Dr. Watson completed his PhD in Astrophysics and Cosmology and a brief postdoctoral appointment at The Ohio State University in 2006. He joined the faculty at Millikin University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the fall of 2006. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012 and became Department Chair in 2013. Since Dr. Watson’s arrival, 100% of graduates from the Millikin Physics Program who have applied to graduate school have been accepted, and 100% of all graduates are now either in graduate school or employed.


Throughout his career at Millikin, Dr. Watson has received a variety of accolades for his teaching, including the Teaching Excellence Award in 2012, and for advising – both for academic advising and for advising the Society of Physics Students, one of the most active student groups on campus. In addition to his work as an educator and advisor, Dr. Watson has conducted research with over 50 students, leading to publications and presentations in five fields: astrophysics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and material science.


Dr. Watson has worked on many aspects of astrophysics and cosmology, including the multi-wavelength (optical, IR, X-ray) evolution of galaxies, AGN and the Star Formation Rate, dark matter, dark energy, gravitational lensing, and stellar evolution. Most recently, he has focused exclusively on dark matter research, which has generated many student presentations at regional and national meetings, three publications with over 300 citations, including one with a Millikin student (Nick Polley; 2012), and six invited lectures at international meetings: five in Paris, France (2012-2016) and one in Daejeon, South Korea (2014).


To help Millikin’s biology, chemistry, and physics majors navigate the path from science student to science career in areas outside astrophysics, Dr. Watson co-founded the Institute for Science Entrepreneurship (ISE) in December, 2012 with Dr. George Bennett and Dr. David Horn of the Millikin Chemistry and Biology Departments, respectively. Since that time the ISE has fostered collaborations between Millikin students and local companies that have resulted in a number of excellent performance learning opportunities, in the form of internships and research projects.


In recognition of his contributions to interdisciplinary student research, Dr. Watson was named the second John A. Leighty Distinguished Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2016 (a two-year appointment) and a Coleman Foundation Fellow in 2016 and 2017, for his entrepreneurial work.