Physics (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements 

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation 
    ❱   Final oral examination

Research Specializations

    ❱   Astronomy, Astrophysics & Cosmology
    ❱   Biological Physics
    ❱   Computational Physics, Simulation & Modeling
    ❱   Condensed Matter Physics
    ❱   Functional Materials
    ❱   Laser Spectroscopy & Optics 
    ❱   Particles & Fields

Research Areas & Interests 

Astronomy, Astrophysics & Cosmology

Research in astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology involves dark matter, dark energy, and black hole formation.

Topics included in this research at present include:

  • Binary star evolution at critical phases in their lifetime
  • Particle acceleration in binaries and pulsars
  • Probing accreting environments in binaries
  • Black hole formation and dynamics
  • Origins and properties of dark matter and dark energy

Researchers in this area:

  • Marcus A. Alfred
  • Joel B. Coley
  • Tristan Hubsch
  • James V. Lindesay

Biological Physics

Research in the area of biological physics involves neural networks and biomedical physics.

Topics included in this research at present include:

  • Systems biology
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Population dynamics

Researchers in this area:

  • James V. Lindesay

Computational Physics, Simulation & Modeling

Research in computational physics, simulation, and modeling includes the areas of nanophysics: molecules in nanopores, wetting and films, clusters, hydrogen storage, gas separation, and optoelectronic materials.

Topics included in this research at present include:

  • Atmospheric waves and oscillations
  • DNA sequencing
  • Cellular electroporation
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Electromagnetic scattering from rough surfaces
  • Biological Physics.

Researchers in this area:

  • Marcus A. Alfred
  • Pratibha Dev
  • Sugata Chowdhury
  • Silvina M. Gatica
  • James V. Lindesay
  • Prabhakar Misra

Condensed Matter Physics

Research in condensed matter physics (CMP) uses a combination of experimental, theoretical, and computational tools to explore the connection between the structures at the atomistic level to the macroscopic properties of matter.

Topics included in this research at present include:

  • Novel quantum materials
  • Multiferroics
  • Magnetocaloric materials
  • Carbon-based nanostructures, such as single-walled and multi-walled carbon nanotubes and functionalized graphene
  • Materials in extreme environments
  • Magnetic materials
  • Spin glasses
  • Electrode materials for improving batteries

Researchers in this area:

  • Robert M. Catchings, III (Experiment)
  • Pratibha Dev (Theory)
  • Sugata Chowdhury (Theory)
  • Silvina M. Gatica (Theory)
  • Samaresh Guchhait (Experiment)
  • Walter P. Lowe (Experiment)
  • Kim M. Lewis (Experiment)
  • Prabhakar Misra (Experiment)

Functional Materials

Functional materials represent a fast-growing class of advanced materials and composites with unique properties and/or functions. Examples of functional materials include magnetic, magnetocaloric, energy storage (battery) materials, energy harvesting (solar cell) materials, piezoelectric, multiferroic, etc.

Our department has several functional material groups, which include:

  • Magnetocaloric materials
  • Battery materials
  • Terahertz materials
  • Photovoltaic materials
  • Metamaterial

Researchers in this area:

  • Pratibha Dev
  • Samaresh Guchhait
  • Walter P. Lowe
  • Quinton L. Williams

Laser Spectroscopy & Optics

Research in laser spectroscopy and optics falls under the broad umbrella of atomic, molecular & optical physics. A focused area of significant research involves the Raman spectroscopy of graphitic nanomaterials (e.g., single-walled and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene, and functionalized graphene nanoplatelets) and metal oxides (e.g., tungsten trioxide and tin dioxide) characterizing such materials for gas-sensing applications, energy storage, and photovoltaics. In addition, we use other spectroscopy techniques (e.g., Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, UV-VIS Spectroscopy Scanning Electron Microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, and X-Ray Diffraction) to gain a better understanding of the vibrational phonon modes, crystallite size, chemical composition, morphology and thermal characteristics of these nanomaterials for applications relating to frontier areas in optoelectronics and quantum science. We examine computational modeling and numerical simulations of vibrational phenomena associated with nanomaterials for gas-sensing applications, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques for differentiating various functionalized groups (e.g., carboxyl, ammonia, oxygen, fluoro-carbon, nitrogen, and hydroxyl) in graphene nanoplatelets.

Topics included in this research at present include but are not limited to:

  • Spectroscopic characterization of nanomaterials (carbon nanotubes, graphene, functionalized graphene, metal oxides)
  • Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, ft-in spectroscopy, and UV-vis spectroscopy
  • Terahertz spectroscopy of metamaterials
  • Laser spectroscopy and chemical kinetics of moderately-sized jet-cooled free radicals
  • Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of molecular vibrations
  • machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to functionalized graphene nanoplatelets

Researchers in this area:

  • Raul F. Garcia-Sanchez
  • Antonio Luis Levy
  • Prabhakar Misra
  • Dragana Tankosic
  • Quinton Williams

Particles & Fields

Elementary particle physics studies the most basic building blocks of nature, their mutual interactions, and the immediate structures they form. These subatomic phenomena involve very high energies. They ultimately relate to its evolution as studied in cosmology and astrophysics. This research also involves the development of computational approaches to relativistic and non-relativistic few-body scattering.

Researchers in this field work on cutting-edge and fundamental topics within the discipline, including but not limited to:

  • String theory and its M- and F-theory extensions
  • Supersymmetry and its breaking
  • Geometry and topology of spacetime
  • Quantum field theory
  • Origins and properties of dark matter and dark energy

Researchers in this area:

  • Marcus A. Alfred
  • Tristan Hubsch
  • James V. Lindesay

Program of Study* 


PHYS 210  Classical Mechanics I

PHYS 211  Classical Mechanics II

PHYS 214  Electromagnetic Theory I

PHYS 215  Electromagnetic Theory II

PHYS 220  Quantum Mechanics I

PHYS 221  Quantum Mechanics II

PHYS 222  Statistical Mechanics I

PHYS 223  Statistical Mechanics II


A sampling of elective courses

PHYS 200   Modern Physics I

PHYS 201   Modern Physics II

PHYS 202  Optics

PHYS 203  Thermodynamics 

PHYS 204  Electricity and Magnetism I

PHYS 243  The Galaxy

PHYS 208  Physical Mechanics I

PHYS 230  Current Issues in Physics Education

PHYS 221  Quantum Mechanics II

PHYS 226  Solid State Physics I

PHYS 228  Fundamental Particle Phys. I

PHYS 232  Adv. Geophys. Fluid Dyn. I 

PHYS 236  Electronic Physics I

PHYS 235  Molecular Simulations 

PHYS 250  Atmospheric Physics I

PHYS 266  Advanced Mathematical Methods in Physics I

PHYS 245  Elementary Particle Theory

PHYS 253  Atmospheric Radiation

PHYS 246  Plasma Physics I


*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students are eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.