Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 111



213 Center for Science and Technology

Office Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00-11:00 (I generally have an open-door policy)

Website Link

Michael Lerner

Assistant Professor of Physics


  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Environmental Science


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.S., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.S., Haverford College

Selected Courses

Analytical Physics I: Mechanics and Analytical Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, Optics and Waves (Physics 125 and 235). These courses are the core introduction to our major and discipline, and I'm passionate about the material in both the classroom and the lab.

Modeling the World (Computer Science 290): We teach you the basics of Python, IPython Notebook, and NetLogo, and then develop computational models to examine the world, from social sciences to biology to physics and computer science. This class is particularly fun because of the broad range of perspectives interdisciplinary students bring.

Mathematical Physics (Physics 360). This course is cross-listed in mathematics and physics, and gives us a chance to lay down the fundamental mathematical methods needed to model the physical world. A student-chosen project is a key part of the course, and recent students have chosen to explore topics ranging from a numerical model of heat transfer for starting a fire without matches in the woods, to tensors, to the Fast Fourier Transform, to the mathematics behind AM radio.

Thermal Physics/Statistical Mechanics (Physics 375). This is one of the most fascinating fields of Physics, and one full of modern advances. We study the standard curriculum as well as computational models of non-equilibrium dynamics fresh from the literature. The course includes physical and computational labs. We also study Monte Carlo methods, and apply them to particularly important topics like predicting brackets for March Madness.

Senior Seminar: Advanced Statistical Mechanics and Molecular Simulation (Physics 480). This class combines active research topics with up-to-the-minute results from statistical mechanics.


Michael Lerner is a computational biophysicist who studies membranes, lipids, nucleic acids, proteins and dynamics, to examine problems from basic physics to drug design. He often collaborates with students on research projects.

He says of Earlham students, “in my experience, our students are all here because they are passionate about something. Even my introductory classes are entirely full of students who genuinely want to learn and explore.”

Research Projects

Molecular Dynamics
Diffusion of proteins and lipids within membranes
Protein structure and dynamics
Nucleic acid structure
Computational Topology Drug design

Professional Memberships

American Association of Physics Teachers 
ALPhA (Advanced Laboratory Physics Association) 
Biophysical Society

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