Jul 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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L. Michael Hayden

Associate Chair

Terrance Worchesky


Belay Demoz
Ph.D., University of Nevada, 1992

Theodosia Gougousi
B.S., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), 1990; M.S., University of Pittsburgh, 1993; Ph.D., 1996

James Franson
B.S., Purdue University, 1970; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1977

Anthony M. Johnson
B.S., Polytechnic Institute of New York, 1975; Ph.D., City College of New York

L. Michael Hayden
B.A., United States Naval Academy, 1978; M.A., University of California, Davis, 1984; Ph.D. 1987

J. Vanderlei Martins
B.S., University of São Paulo, 1991; M.S., 1994; Ph.D., 1999

Todd Pittman
B.S., Bucknell University, 1990; M.S., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1992; Ph.D., 1996

Phillip J. Rous
B.S. University of Bristol, 1983; Ph.D. Imperial College, University of London, 1986

Yanhua Shih
B.S., Northwestern University, 1981; M.S., University of Maryland, College Park, 1984; Ph.D., 1987

Zhibo Zhang
B.S., Nanjing University, China, 1998; M.S., Texas A&M University, 2004; Ph.D., 2008

Associate Professor

Sebastian Deffner
M.S., University of Augsburg (Germany), 2008; Ph.D., 2011

Markos Georganopoulos
B.Sc., University of Thessaloniki (Greece), 1989; M.S., Boston University, 1991; Ph.D., 1999

Mark J. Henriksen
B.S., University of California, Los Angeles, 1977; M.M., Catholic University, 2001; Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 1985

Jason Kestner
B.S., Michigan Technological University, 2004; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2009

Eileen Meyer
B.S., Rice University, 2005; M.S., 2008; Ph.D., 2012

Matthew Pelton
B.A.Sc., University of Toronto (Canada), 1996; Ph.D., Stanford University, 2002

Terrance Worchesky
B.S., Drexel University, 1976; M.S., Georgetown University, 1982; Ph.D., 1983

Pengwang Zhai
B.S., Jilin University (China), 1998; M.S. Texas A&M University, 2001; Ph.D., 2006

Assistant Professor

Can Ataca
B.S., Bilkent University (Turkey), 2007; M.S. 2008; Ph.D., 2012

Adriana Rocha Lima
B.S., University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), 2007; M.S., 2009; Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2015

Principal Lecturer

Eric C. Anderson
B.S., Ohio University, 1984; M.S., The Ohio State University, 1986; Ph.D., Arizona State University, 1993

Lili Cui
B.S., Xuzhou Normal University (China), 2000; Ph.D., Kansas State University, 2006


Cody Goolsby-Cole
B.S., University of Maine, 2012; M.S., University of Massachusetts, 2015; Ph.D., 2017

Research Professor

L. Larrabee Strow
B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1974; M.S., University of Maryland, College Park, 1977; Ph.D., 1981

Research Assistant Professor

Sergio De Souza-Machado
B.A., College of Wooster, 1988; M.S., University of Maryland, College Park, 1990; Ph.D.,1999

Professor Emeriti

Raymond M. Hoff
A.B., University of California, Berkeley, 1970; Ph.D., Simon Fraser University (Canada), 1975

Harvey S. Melfi
B.S., The Citadel, 1963; M.S. College of William & Mary, 1967; Ph.D., 1970

Morton H. Rubin
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1959; Ph.D., Princeton University, 1964

Geoffrey P. Summers
Ph.D., Oxford University, 1969

T. Jane Turner
B.A., University of Leicester (U.K.), 1984; Ph.D., 1988

Associate Professor Emeriti

Ivan Kramer
B.S., City College of New York, 1961; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1967

Kevin J. McCann
B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 1969; M.S., 1971; Ph.D., 1974

Robert C. Reno
B.S., Manhattan College, 1965; M.S., Brandeis University, 1967; Ph.D., 1970

En Shinn Wu
B.S., National Taiwan University (Taiwan), 1965; Ph.D., Cornell University, 1972

Affiliated Professor

Lorraine Remer
B.S., University of California, Davis; M.S., University of California, San Diego, 1980; Ph.D., 1991

Affiliated Associate Professor

William S. Olson
A.B., Cornell University, 1978; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1987

Affiliated Assistant Professor

Ruben Delgado
B.S., University of Puerto Rico, 1995; M.S., 2004; Ph.D., 2011

Affiliated Research Scientist

Roberto Borda
M.S., University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), 1996; Ph.D., 2011


Courses in this program are listed under PHYS.

Physics students are trained to see and to understand nature in an especially profound way. They learn how to dissect a problem into its essential components, to understand the interrelation of the parts, and to apply mathematical and computational techniques to produce a solution. This type of training is obviously advantageous in many professions besides physics, so physics graduates are found in professions as diverse as patent law, medicine, and finance.

UMBC’s Department of Physics offers a Physics, B.S.  and a Physics Education, B.A.  Either track can be taken as a terminal degree for graduation.

The Bachelor of Science degree qualifies a student for immediate professional employment or can be used as a basis for entrance into graduate school. The Bachelor of Arts degree is specifically designed for those students planning a career in high school teaching, and it is coordinated with the UMBC Education Department. This coordination allows students to obtain a degree in physics education in a four-year program that includes certification for teaching high school physics. This method fulfills the State of Maryland requirement for new high school teachers to major in the subject area that they teach.

A special feature of both degree tracks is the opportunity for undergraduates to participate in the faculty’s research programs. Many students doing this research are co-authors with their research mentors on papers at technical conferences and in research journals. To help support undergraduate research, the department presents the Langenburg Student Research Award each year to a junior or senior physics major. The Langenburg award is to support the student during the semester he or she is performing research. This award is in addition to University-supported research grants that are available to undergraduate students from the Office of the Provost and from the Office of Research for their undergraduate research.

The departmental honors program requires the course PHYS 499H - Senior Research (3) , but this course can be taken as an elective by any student with consent of his or her academic advisor and a faculty research mentor. This course can be used as one of the two upper-level electives required for the Physics B.S. degree, and the credits earned in this course can be applied as upper-division credits toward the University graduation requirements. It is important for all students to work closely with their departmental academic advisor to take full advantage of the elective courses offered in physics and in other departments, especially once a particular career path has been chosen.

The department offers minors in both physics and in astrophysics. The astrophysics minor is aimed especially at those students interested in pursuing careers in astronomy or astrophysics.

Also, the department offers a combined B.S./M.S. program for highly qualified students.

The Department is located in the 728000-square-foot Physics Building (built in 1999), which includes many outstanding facilities for undergraduates. There is a tutorial center, the Alvin Meckler Reading Room containing a large number of texts and other physics-related books and space for group studies, and the physics student’s lounge. The Department houses numerous laboratories, researcher office space, parallel-computing facilities, and an 0.8-meter astronomical telescope, which is located in the telescope dome on the roof of the Physics Building. Other special research facilities in the building include a class-100 clean room, in which state-of-the-art photonic and electronic devices are fabricated, and the Nano-Imaging Facility, which contains a field emission scanning electron microscope with special characterization attachments and an atomic force microscope. As well as in faculty research programs, these facilities are used by students in the optics courses, the advanced laboratory course, and in undergraduate research projects.

Typically about half the graduating seniors go on to graduate school. Recent UMBC Physics graduates have received PhD degrees at MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, The Johns Hopkins University and the Universities of California at Berkeley, Illinois and Michigan, among others.

Career and Academic Paths

The career opportunities for physics majors are numerous and varied. Many of UMBC’s physics majors go on to pursue advanced degrees in physics and allied fields of science and engineering at the nation’s leading graduate schools. Other physics students find employment immediately upon graduation. Recent graduates are working in electro-optics, space physics, computer modeling and semiconductor research, among other fields, with employers such as Thor Labs, Northrop Grumman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Security Agency, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories. Other graduates have gone on to medical or law school or to other careers for which the problem-solving skills and understanding of the physical world learned in physics courses prepare them.

Several graduates of the physics B.S. program have chosen a career teaching high school physics. Additional students graduated from the B.A. program in Physics Education. The B.A. program in Physics Education is designed to allow students to complete their physics degree and their Maryland teaching certification in four years. The number of students enrolled in the physics education program has been increasing due to the extreme shortage of high-school physics teachers in Maryland and across the country.

The UMBC Department of Physics offers both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Physics and Atmospheric Physics. Undergraduates making satisfactory progress in their physics and mathematics courses may obtain permission from their advisor to take graduate-level courses which can count toward their undergraduate degree requirements.

The areas of research emphasis in the graduate programs are non-linear and quantum optics, quantum computing, solid-state materials and nanophysics, photonics, atmospheric physics and astrophysics. All faculty have active research programs, and several of the faculty are internationally recognized in their field. The external research funding of the Department exceeds $6 million per year. These funds come from such agencies as NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the National Security Agency.

The Department plays a major role in UMBC’s Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  The department also participates in the Center in Astrophysics (CRESST) with NASA’s Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, and the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR).

Academic Advising

All students considering a major or minor in physics, or a minor in astronomy, are strongly encouraged to contact the Department as soon as possible. There is a special faculty advisor for first year students, transfer students and new physics majors. After their first year in the program, all majors are assigned to a permanent physics faculty academic advisor until they graduate.

In addition to following each student’s progress through the academic program and assisting the student with course selection, the faculty advisor is available to discuss such subjects as career goals, summer internships and opportunities for graduate study.

Honors Program

Students must apply for admission to the Physics Department Honors by the end of their junior year. There is a university requirement of a GPA of 3.5 or better in the major and at least nine credits of honors course work. For physics majors, these requirements are met by taking PHYS 499H    with a faculty member and by taking six other credits of honors course work in physics.  Additionally, a research or teaching experience in the Physics Department is required.

Student Organizations

UMBC’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students is open to all students and has received an “Outstanding Chapter” award from the national office of the society. UMBC has a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national honors society in physics. Also, the Department’s Undergraduate Women and Gender Minorities in Physics group has received a grant from the American Physical Society.  These groups have their own study room in the Physics Building and sponsor activities such as on-campus speakers and social events.

Special Opportunities

Undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in faculty research programs for credit or as paid student assistants. Academically strong undergraduate students can assist in teaching the introductory physics courses as Learning Assistants. This is excellent experience for future graduate students and for those students in the B.A. program in Physics Education. The department also employs students as tutors and laboratory assistants.





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