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Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore MD

The Physics of Medicine and the Human Body

June 10, 2024  to June 12, 2024

Number of setups available: N/A

Maximum number of participants: 4


Physics has transformed modern medicine through the development of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques and has enabled a deeper appreciation of the human body. In this Immersion, participants will learn about various types of apparatus for teaching the physics of medicine and the human body. The material targets students ranging from those who have had 1-2 semesters of introductory physics to advanced physics majors. Participants will have a choice of which setups to study.

At Loyola University Maryland, we have developed two courses on the physics of medicine as part of a biomedical physics minor: one on diagnostic and therapeutic techniques in medicine, and the other on sport and biomechanics. We have also incorporated related activities into advanced labs. In the process, our students have worked with a variety of apparatus and activities, and we have developed student and instructor guides and lecture notes on how to cover the material. While some of the material was developed in-house, I have incorporated many efforts from other people into my teaching. In this Immersion, I will show the work of myself and other people in a form that I have found to be useful.

List of possible experiments and activities

This is a list of what could be covered in this Immersion. You can also look at a presentation with pictures of most of the activities (, scroll down to my name and click on link). If you are interested in this Immersion, would you please contact me at as soon as possible to discuss which activities you would like to cover.

Diagnostic and therapeutic techniques

Nuclear medicine
      Gamma camera imaging: collimator and detection system. Multiple levels. AJP article.
      Positron emission tomography (PET), intermediate level – paper and pencil activities, computer simulations, time-of-flight

Fiber optics in medicine
      Intermediate level apparatus. Documents on MedEdPortal.
      Advanced lab covering acceptance angle and coupling

Ultrasound imaging
      Intermediate level: paper-and-pencil activity, animations
      Advanced lab to acquire signal and construct image
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), intro and intermediate level
Computed tomography
      Intermediate level: paper and pencil activities, computer simulations
      Lab apparatus, intermediate level

Dissection of a chicken quarter to understand the parts of the body that enable it to move, any level.
Apparatus of the arm, particularly the biceps and triceps, intro and interm. level
Apparatus of the gastrocnemius muscle and foot, intro and interm. level
umping on a force plate, interm. level
Video analysis of sports motions, intro and interm. level
Spreadsheet exercises on linear kinematics where real data of human motion is analyzed, intro and interm. level
Computer modeling to determine the optimum release angle of a shot put, interm. and advanced level
Fluid dynamics: IV bag and needle, intermediate level
Heart as a pump – intro and intermediate level

Aerobic metabolism – intermediate level
Optics of the eye – intro and intermediate level
Spectroscopy associated with the pulse oximeter – intermediate level
Pressure in the lungs and alveoli – intro and intermediate level
Brownian motion – intermediate and advanced level

There may be other activities that have been classroom-tested only one time. Please inquire and I will tell you if I have teaching materials.


Equipment and supplies that should be brought to the program by the participants: All items for the Immersion are available at Loyola. Internet access will be available.

 Safety considerations: If using a laser, the beam should not be aimed at the eyes. Be careful with reflections.

 Cost estimate: The cost of each setup starts at $100 and goes up to several thousand. In a number of cases, the equipment is generally useful for a variety of labs. The costs of oscilloscopes, power supplies, software licenses, microscope, camera, and custom products are not included in the estimate.

Host and Mentor:  

Mary Lowe is a professor of physics at Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Lowe earned her Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. Following a postdoc at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, she began working at Loyola University Maryland, where her time is spent primarily on teaching, research, and service. She has taught all levels of lectures and labs for undergraduate physics majors. Her grant-funded teaching projects have included robotics in the introductory physics lab and the development of physics of medicine modules. Over the years, she has conducted research at Loyola on fluid flows in large, curved ducts and in the microcirculation; multiplexed identification and quantification of DNAs on the surface of microscopic beads using flow cytometry; molecular dynamics simulations of proteins and lipid membranes; and atomic force microscopy measurements on DNA/protein complexes and carbon nanotubes. Her latest teaching interest is quantum computing

Please note that the Jonathan F. Reichert Foundation has established a grant program to help purchase apparatus used in Laboratory Immersions. Limitations and exclusions apply, but generally speaking the Foundation may support up to 50% of the cost of the required equipment.

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