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    American University
    Jun 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2019-2020 
American University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]



Chair  Nathan Harshman

Full-Time Faculty

Professor Emeritus  R. Berendzen, H.R. Reiss, R.A. Segnan, J.A. White
Professor  N.L. Harshman
Associate Professor  G.Harry, P. Johnson, T. Larkin
Assistant Professor  B. Anderson, S. Guidoni
Professorial Lecturer  C. Finkel, A. Grocholski
Research Associate Professor  L. Paganini
Research Assistant Professor  B. Bonev, S. Faggi, V. Kofman, M. Lippi, G. Liuzzi, A. Lunsford, A. McKay, D. Poulios, R. Schwarz, A. Tolbert

Department Overview

A background in physics prepares students for diverse fields such as astronomy, medicine, engineering, architecture, consulting, acoustics, science education, science policy, as well as physics. Physics courses explore physical phenomena and properties of the universe like mechanics, gravitation, electricity and magnetism, atomic and nuclear structure, waves and optics, and the properties of matter and energy. During coursework, students acquire skills with the theoretical and experimental tools required for the practice of physics and astronomy. At the same time, students come to appreciate how the intersection of science and technology has shaped history and society.

The department’s education facilities include laboratories equipped with modern technology and multiple teaching spaces tailored to foster interactive learning. All physics majors are required to participate in undergraduate research experiences mentored by faculty members or by colleagues at any of the many science research institutions in the Washington, DC area. The department’s faculty members are active in research in multiple subfields of physics including optics, atomic and condensed matter theory, astrophysics, particle physics, physics education, quantum information, and gravitational physics.

The Department of Physics offers two majors: Physics (BS)  and Physics (BA) . The Physics (BS)  prepares students for graduate school in physics and related fields and for careers in science and technology. Also, students with the Physics (BS)  have the technical and computing skills to qualify them for jobs at research laboratories and technical consulting firms. The Physics (BS)  program has three tracks: traditional physics, chemical physics, and computational physics. The Physics (BA)  is designed to give students a strong scientific background, but allow them more flexibility to complete additional academic programs and to pursue other interests. The Physics (BA)  program is ideal for students preparing for fields in science policy, science education, science communication, patent law, and related interdisciplinary careers. Additionally, the department offers two minors, Physics (Minor)  and Applied Physics (Minor) , that enrich a student’s academic program by providing complementary knowledge, skills and experience. Previous students have leveraged the physics background from their minors into interesting career opportunities.

Honors in Physics

The Honors in Physics  program is a mark of distinction for undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate training and/or a research career in physics, astronomy, engineering, or related fields. The goal of the program is to prepare undergraduates for independent specialized research and to provide additional mentorship on professional practices and ethics that will allow the student to become creative, productive, collaborative colleagues in the future. 


    Major Program (UG)Minor (UG)