About our Department

The science of physics is concerned with the fundamentalnature of matter and energy, and more routinely withthe response of physical systems to external forces. Itencompasses all phenomena in the physical world, fromelementary particles to the structure and origin of the universe. Physics, together with mathematics and chemistry, provides a strong foundation for work in engineering and all fields of the physical sciences (e.g., geological, oceanographic, and atmospheric sciences), and contributes to other fields such as medicine and the biological and marine sciences.

The Physics Department works closely with research members of the UAF Geophysical Institute including the space physics and aeronomy groups. The department alsohas close ties to the UAF Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry and Geology & Geophysics Departments and is also the holder of the General Science B.S. degree program for CNSM.

The Physics Department has a number of positions for undergraduate students, which vary in salary and responsibility. These include homework graders, research and project assistants, and for exceptional upper-division students opportunities as teaching assistant in the lower division introductory courses. During the summer it ispossible to work with one of our many faculty as a student intern.

Physics Journal Club

The Physics Journal Club holds seminars every Friday @ 3:45 PM in the Elvy Building, Globe Room, during the academic years. The seminar topics and speakers vary from week to week.

Click here for a current seminar schedule.

Physics Degree Programs

B.S., Physics & B.S. Applied Physics

The undergraduate curriculum provides a solid foundation in classical and modern physics, with an emphasis on its experimental aspects. Students completing this curriculum should be prepared for careers in education, industry, and for advancedwork in physics, applied physics, and related sciences.

The field of applied physics encompasses those areas which have developed from fundamental research in physics in the last century, such as space physics, plasma physics,condensed matter physics, biophysics, laser physics.

M.S., Ph.D. Physics Graduate Programs

Graduate work is offered in various areas of physics. Faculty and student research programs currently emphasize investigationsof auroral, ionospheric, magnetospheric and space plasma physics, the physics and chemistry of the upper and middle atmosphere, radio wave propagation and scattering, solar-terrestrial relations & condensed matter physics.

  • Physics: Various areas of physics studies including researchstudied at the UAF Geophysical Institute are offered. Studentscan earn an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in physics with researchspecialties in a variety of areas.
  • Space Physics: Focuses on the physics of upper atmospheres,ionospheres, magnetospheres and the interplanetarymedium. The program includes foundation andspecialty courses such as plasma physics, auroral physics,aeronomy and magnetospheric physics. Techniques coursesprovide training in areas such as numerical simulationsand time-series analysis.
  • Computational Physics (M.S. Degree only):Computational physics includes numerical modeling andcomputer simulation of physical systems. Computationalphysics requires expertise in advanced computing environments,mathematics, and in the specific physics discipline.This degree is directed toward students with undergraduateacademic backgrounds in physics or other closely associatedfields such as engineering. It’s suited to students seekingcareers that require expertise in modeling and simulationof physical systems.

General Science Degree Program

BS - General Science

The General Science Program is unusual because of the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, which is administered by the Physics Department. The program is designed to provide the student with an introduction to each of the fundamental disciplines of physical (e.g., physics, chemistry, geology) and biological sciences as well as an opportunity to study one or more of these areas in greater detail.

Students may choose either two majors or one major and two minors.

The first major must be selected from biology, chemistry, geology, or physics. A student then has the option of selecting a second major from biology, chemistry, geology, physics, or mathematics, or selecting two minors, one of which will be from the natural sciences or mathematics, while the second minor may be selected from other areas listed in the current UAF Catalog.

The degree offers good preparation for entrance into graduate programs in interdisciplinary sciences. Students completing this curriculum are well prepared for careers in education.

(Students interested in a career in teaching should contact the Department of Education (907) 474-7341 for course requirements.)

Northern lights
Photo taken by Poul Jensen