Dr. Paul A. Westhaus

Ph.D. Washington University (St. Louis) 1966


My research interests have been in the area of molecular Physics. Specifically, there are three projects upon which I have focused over the past twenty-five years. I have generated from "first principles" so-called effective valence shell Hamiltonians. Usually associated with semiempirical quantum chemistry, these Hamiltonians with their effective valence shell interactions may be seen as arising in Hilbert space transformations on the fundamental Coulombic Hamiltonian. Thus, such procedures lead to the justification of the semiempirical calculations and indeed the à priori predictions of the hitherto semiempirical parameters. Secondly, I have calculated various electromagnetic transition rates in atoms and molecules using (approximate) wave functions for the stationary states of the effective Hamiltonians. Finally, I have been interested in density functional theories, both formally and in practice. In such theories we are able to focus on the more-or-less intuitive electronic charge density defined over one-electron configuration space, avoiding explicit reference to the more fundamental but decidedly less intuitive many electron wave functions. In particular, I am interested in the density functional computations of intermolecular interaction energies.


I must admit to an abiding interest but a laymen's knowledge in applying Physics to the study of biological systems. In the past few summers I have run an on campus summer academy for high school juniors/seniors entitled "Physics of the Heart". Here we sought to apply the basic notions of mechanics and electricity -- force, work, energy, rheology, charge, current, voltage, etc. -- to the study of the "mechanisms" of the human heart and circulatory system. Certainly, one motivation behind this academy is to demonstrate the relevance of Physics to a group of otherwise biologically-inclined students. We are planning to offer an expanded version of "Physics of the Heart" as a course for OSU pre-meds, pre-vets, and other bioscience majors who typically have an algebra-based General Physics background.