Department of Physics


Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Bruce B. Marsh Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Professors Emeriti
Mohammad Sajjad Alam, Ph.D.
Indiana University
Akira Inomata, Ph.D. 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
John C. Kimball, Ph.D.
University of Chicago        
Wilfried W. Scholz, Ph.D.
University of Freiburg (Germany)
Laura M. Roth, Ph.D.
Radcliffe College


Ariel Caticha, Ph.D.

California Institute of Technology 
Tung-Sheng Kuan, Ph.D. 

Cornell University 

William A. Lanford, Ph.D. 

University of Rochester 

Carolyn MacDonald, Ph.D.

Harvard University


Associate Professors 

Keith Earle, Ph.D. (Department Chair)

Cornell University 

Jesse A. Ernst, Ph.D. 

University of Rochester
Philip Goyal, Ph.D.
Trinity College, Cambridge
Vivek Jain, Ph.D.
University of Hawaii 

Kevin Knuth, Ph.D. 

University of Minnesota
Oleg Lunin, Ph.D.
Ohio State University
Jonathan Petruccelli, Ph.D.
University of Rochester


Assistant Professors 

Herbert F. Fotso, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA
Cecilia Levy, Ph.D.
University of Muenster
Alexander Khmaladze, Ph.D.
University of South Florida
Daniel G. Robins, Ph.D.
University of Chicago
Matthew Szydagis, Ph.D.
University of Chicago



Robert Schmitz, Ph.D.
University at Albany, SUNY
Eric Woods, Ph.D.
Harvard University


Adjuncts (estimated): 14
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 22


The Physics Department provides students a solid foundation in classical and modern physics. Physics majors obtain a theoretical background in classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and thermal physics. Laboratory classes develop skills in experimental techniques. Elective courses in physics allow students to broaden their knowledge in areas such as biophysics, computational, nuclear, particle, x-ray, medical, optical and solid state physics, and materials science. Independent study with faculty members is encouraged.

Courses in environmental science, space physics and astronomy bring broader physical concepts to the non-major.


Physics graduates work as scientists in research labs, development labs, and medical centers. They become teachers and technical writers or data analysts. They continue their education in physics, other sciences or mathematics, and education or medicine. Opportunities abound, and the variety of typical career choices is surprisingly varied. More information is available at

Physics majors, minors, or intended majors are strongly encouraged to visit the Physics office to be assigned a Physics faculty advisor.

Course Progression Restrictions
Students must complete A PHY 235 with a C or better to register for A PHY 320, 335Z, 340, 350, 440, 450, and 460. Students must complete A PHY 240 with a C or better to register for A PHY 320, 340, and 440. Students must complete A PHY 250 with a C or better to register for A PHY 335Z, 350, 450, and 460.

Degree Requirements for the Major in Physics

General Program B.S.: Combined major and minor sequence consisting of 69-76 credits.

Required courses:

  • Introductory physics sequence: A PHY 140 or T PHY 141 or A PHY 142; A PHY 150 or T PHY 151 or A PHY 152; and A PHY 240.
  • Lab sequence for introductory courses: A PHY 145 or 106, 155 or 109, and 245.
  • Higher level physics courses: A PHY 235 or A MAT 314 and 315, 250, 320, 335Z, 340, 350, 440, 450, and 460.
  • Chemistry: A CHM 120 and 121 (or the more advanced 130 and 131) and labs A CHM 124, 125.
  • Calculus sequence: A MAT 112 and 113 (or the honors courses 118 and 119, or A MAT 101 and 111 and 113) and A MAT 214.
  • Mathematics elective: A MAT 220, 314, 367, or 412.
  • An additional physics course numbered 300 or higher and appended with a Y suffix, e.g. 415Y, 426Y, 430Y, etc.
  • I CEN/I CSI 201 or A PHY 277. 

Honors Program

The honors program in physics is designed for outstanding students.
Students should apply for admission to the honors program before November 15 of the junior year.

The minimum requirements for admission are:

  • Completion of A PHY 140 or A PHY 142 or T PHY 141, A PHY 150 or A PHY 152 or T PHY 151, A PHY 240 or 241, 250 or their equivalents;
  • An overall grade point average of 3.30;
  • A grade point average of 3.60 in physics courses required for the major;
  • Written recommendations from at least three faculty members, one of whom, preferably, should be from outside the Department of Physics.

Students in the program must maintain both a minimum grade point average of 3.30 overall and of 3.60 in physics courses taken to satisfy major requirements during the junior and senior years.

Students in the honors program are required to complete a minimum of 75-82 credits as follows: the 69-76 credits specified for the general program in physics; 3 credits of Honors Seminar in Physics (A PHY 498); and 3 credits of Research and/or Independent Study in Physics (A PHY 497). The independent study must include an honors research project culminating in a written report by the end of the student’s last semester.

A Department Honors Committee will recommend an honors degree to the department faculty for its approval.

Combined B.S./M.S. Program

The combined B.S./M.S. program in physics provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master’s degree programs at the beginning of the junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.S. and M.S. degrees within nine semesters.

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.S., students must meet all University and college requirements including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minimum 60-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.S. and M.S. programs.

Some substitution of graduate courses for undergraduate courses is possible upon approval by the advisor.

Students may apply to the Graduate Committee for admission to the combined degree program in physics at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required.