Jun 22, 2024  
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics and Physics Education



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

Associate Chair

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


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

Anthony M. Johnson
B.S., Polytechnic Institute of New York, 1975; Ph.D., City College of New York, 1981

Phillip J. Rous
B.S. University of Bristol, 1983; Ph.D. Imperial College, University of London, 1986
Interests: Theoretical physics, nanophysics and surfaces

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

Geoffrey P. Summers
Ph.D. Oxford University, 1969
Interests: Radiation effects, defect levels in semiconductors

Associate Professors

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

Ian M. George
B.Sc., The University of Birmingham (U.K.), 1984; Ph.D., University of Leicester, 1988

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

Mark J. Henriksen
B.S. University of California, Los Angeles, 1977; M.M. Catholic University, 2001; Ph.D. University of Maryland College Park, 1985
Interests: Astrophysics, X-ray astronomy

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

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

Lynn C. Sparling
B.S., University of New Mexico, 1976; M.S., University of Wisconson, Madison, 1980; Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1987
Interests: Atmospheric physics, dynamics, transport

Laszlo Takacs
M.S., Eotvos Lorand University (Hungary), 1974; Ph.D., 1978

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

Assistant Professors

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

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


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

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 Associate Professors

Peter Kochunov
B.S., University of Perm (Russia), 1995; M.S. University of Louisville, 1997; Ph.D. UTHSCSA, 2001

Research Assistant Professors

Sergio De Souza-Machado
B.A., College of Wooster, 1988; M.S. University of Marland College Park, 1990; Ph.D.,University of Marland College Park, 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 and Mary, 1967; Ph.D., College of William and Mary, 1970

Robert L. Rasera
B.S., Wheaton College, 1960; Ph.D., Purdue University, 1965

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

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

Adjunct Professors

Michael Fitelson
B.S., City College of New York, 1961; Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1968

Bryan Jacobs
B.S., Drexel University, 1989; M.S., The Johns Hopkins University, 1994; Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2003

Mike Krainak
B.S., The Catholic University of America, 1979; M.S., The Johns Hopkins university, 1984; Ph.D., 1989

Nockolay Krotkov
M.S., Moscow Physical Technical Institute (Russia), 1985; Ph.D., P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, 1990

Mark Kuchner
A.B., Harvard University, 1994; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 2000

Affiliated Assistant Professors

Donald Engel
B.S., Brown University, 2000; M.S., 2001; Ph.D.,University of Pennsylvania, 2005

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

Senior Lecturer

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

Affiliated Associate Professors

David S. Davis
B.S., University of Alabama, 1981; M.S., University of Florida, 1983; Ph.D. University of Maryland College Park, 1994

Susan Hoban
B.S., University of Maryland, College Park, 1983; M.S. University of Maryland, College Park, 1986; Ph.D., 1989

Prasun Kundu
B.S., Calcutta Univeresity, 1974; M.S. INdia Institute of Technology, 1976; Ph.D. University of Rochester, 1981

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

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

Katja Pottschmidt
Ph.D., University of Tubingen (Germany), 1989

Tamas Varnai
M.S. Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary, 1989; Ph.D., McGill University, 1996

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 Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics Education. 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 the Office of Research for their undergraduate research.

The departmental honors program requires the course Senior Research (PHYS 499H ), 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 astronomy. The astronomy 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 a new, 72,000-square-foot Physics Building, 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 a computer laboratory with PCs configured for both Windows and Linux applications, and the physics student’s lounge. The department recently has purchased nearly $6 million worth of new equipment, including a 0.8 meter astronomical telescope, which is housed in a dome on the roof of the Physics Building. Other special facilities in the building include: a class-100 clean room, in which state-of-the-art photonic and electronic devices can be fabricated, and a microscopy facility containing a scanning electron microscope with special characterization attachments and an atomic force microscope. These facilities are used by students in optics courses, in 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, 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 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 shortage of high-school physics teachers.

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, 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. There are 10 JCET research faculty affiliated with the Department of Physics. The department also participates in the Center in Astrophysics (CRESST) with NASA’s Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, with twenty-five researchers connected to the UMBC Physics Department, 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 freshmen, 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 departmental honors program by the end of the first semester 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 490 - Senior Seminar , PHYS 499H - Senior Research  and nine credits of upper-level elective courses, six of which must be lecture-type courses.

Student Organizations

UMBC’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students is open to all students. In 1999, it received an “Outstanding Chapter” award from the national office of the society. The chapter has its own study room in the Physics Building and sponsors activities such as on-campus speakers and social events. In addition, UMBC has a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national honor society in physics.

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.


    Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceNon-DegreeBachelor of Science/Master of Science