School of Physics and Astronomy

Overview

There has never been a more exciting time to study the exciting discipline of physics, spanning the workings of the sub-atomic world to the ever-expanding universe. The BS Physics Program offers a comprehensive curriculum that provides a solid foundation in experimental, computational, and theoretical physics, emphasizing laboratory training and the development of analytical problem-solving skills. Physics majors gain strong preparation for employment in research, industry, and teaching, and for graduate study in physics and related fields. BS Physics students also find graduate placements in various professional programs such as in medical, law, and business schools.

At the graduate level, the School of Physics and Astronomy offers PhD and MS programs in Astrophysical Sciences & Technology with extensive curricula and research opportunities spanning topics in stellar, galactic, and extragalactic astrophysics, as well as the fields of general relativity, gravitational wave astronomy, and instrument/detector development. Additionally, the School offers a general Physics MS Program that spans the various sub-disciplines in the field of physics, and provides both a research and a professional option to students.

50%

Of astrophysical sciences and technology doctoral students are women

11

Average number of undergraduate co-authors on peer-reviewed publications annually (2013-2018)

4

BS/MS accelerated 5-year dual degree programs offered

Undergraduate Programs

The undergraduate program in physics offers a broad curriculum preparing students for employment in research, industry, and teaching as well as excellent preparation for graduate school. The individualized research capstone component of the program provides our students with a competitive edge when seeking entry into preferred graduate programs and the job market.

Gain an in-depth understanding of the basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interactions of matter and energy within the world around us.

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Graduate Programs

Our graduate programs offer advanced training in physics and astronomy and provide opportunities spanning a wide variety of research and professional areas. Students in the MS Physics program can choose between either a research (i.e., thesis) option or a “professional” option. Students in the Astrophysical Sciences & Technology programs engage with RIT’s world-class research centers offering cutting-edge opportunities in gravitational waves, new advanced sensor technologies, and multi-wavelength astrophysics.

An astrophysics degree that explores the depths of the universe through multidisciplinary research. Dive into an area that most interests you, whether it's general relativity, theoretical astrophysics, observational or instrumentation development, or another area related to astrophysics.

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An astrophysics Ph.D. centered on phenomena beyond the Earth and on the development of the technologies that will enable the next major strides in the field.

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A physics master's degree that solidifies your understanding on the core aspects of physics in both research and technical skill as you study areas of physics that support your career interests.

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Minors and Immersions

The astronomy immersion provides students with the opportunity for additional study in astronomy in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest. The immersion offers a broad background in astronomy with courses providing a broad survey of modern astrophysics and the techniques and technologies used to investigate astronomical phenomena. 

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This minor provides students with an opportunity for additional study in astronomy in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest. It will provide students with a broad foundational background in astronomy in preparation for graduate studies in astronomy or astrophysics. The minor is interdisciplinary and offered jointly by the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

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Optical science techniques are used in a variety of consumer products (digital cameras, CD players), communication technologies (optical fibers), medical imaging (infrared imaging), and the sciences (surveillance, remote sensing, astronomical systems). This minor can be an important complement to studies in electrical and microelectronic engineering, the biological sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics, technical photography, and various majors in the field of applied science and technology.

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In a broad sense, the aim of physics is to develop interconnected unifying threads bridging the vast number of seemingly diverse phenomena observed in the physical world around us. This immersion provides students with the opportunity for additional study in physics in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest. 

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In a broad sense, the aim of physics as a discipline is to develop interconnected unifying threads bridging the vast number of seemingly diverse phenomena observed in the physical world around us. The minor provided students with the opportunity for additional study in physics in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest.

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Latest News

  • June 18, 2020

    x-ray flare from a very young star.

    X-rays From a Newborn Star Hint at Our Sun's Earliest Days  

    NASA mentions Joel Kastner, professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy, and alumnus David Principe '10 Ph.D. (astrophysical science and technology) for being part of a team that observed an X-ray flare from a very young star using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

  • June 18, 2020

    Hubble image of gas and dust ejected from a star.

    Hubble Provides Holistic View of Stars Gone Haywire  

    NASA features Joel Kastner, a professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy, and astrophysical science and technology Ph.D. students Jesse Bublitz and Paula Moraga on their latest Hubble telescope observations.

Research

RIT faculty participating in the Center for Detectors are involved in the design and development of the next generation of instruments and technologies for astrophysics. We participate in a variety of ground-based, sub-orbital, and orbital programs designed to probe from our solar system and galactic neighborhood out to the most distant regions of our universe.

Research Active Faculty:

Physics research in condensed matter and materials encompasses theory and experiment. Theorists utilize electronic structure calculations, molecular dynamics simulations, and kinetic Monte Carlo modeling to study and design oxides, metals, and alloys at various length and time scales. Experimentalists are focused on the study of metals, oxides, surfaces, and magnetic systems through x-ray scattering techniques such as coherent scattering and surface diffraction, as well as imaging techniques such as atomic force microscopy.

Research Active Faculty:

Michael Pierce headshot
Associate Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-2089
Pratik Dholabhai headshot
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-4178
Seth Hubbard headshot
Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Director of NanoPower Research Laboratories
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-4214

Current research areas overlapping the disciplines of Physics and Engineering include such topics as optoelectronic and photovoltaic devices, surface and materials characterization, instrumentation for fundamental physics, complex fluids, and micro-fluidics. Research programs in the School of Physics and Astronomy, for example, aim to increase photovoltaic power conversion efficiency and/or reduce materials costs and consumption through the use of nanoscale and novel materials. Activities encompass materials synthesis by vapor phase epitaxy, device fabrication, material and device modeling, as well as characterization both at the electrical and materials level, and computational design of nano-materials for energy technologies, and complex fluids-structure interaction at the micro-scale for oil recovery.

Research Active Faculty:

Seth Hubbard headshot
Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Director of NanoPower Research Laboratories
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-4214
Pratik Dholabhai headshot
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-4178

RIT faculty participating in the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation and the Laboratory for Multi-wavelength Astrophysics conduct observational and theoretical research across a wide range of topics in multi-messenger and multi-wavelength astrophysics, utilizing a combination of observations spanning the electromagnetic spectrum, data from gravitational wave detectors, and supercomputer simulations. Current areas of research include numerical relativity and relativistic magnetohydrodynamics, gravitational wave data analysis, compact object binaries, accretion disks and jets, galaxy formation and evolution, large scale structure, active galactic nuclei, observational and experimental cosmology, early and late stages of stellar evolution, protoplanetary disks, planetary nebulae, the interstellar medium, supernovae, and pulsars. RIT is a member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation and faculty are involved in several major collaborations including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration, the NANOGrav Pulsar Timing Array Consortium, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and the Cosmic Evolution Survey.

Research Active Faculty:

Manuela Campanelli headshot
Professor
School of Mathematical Sciences
College of Science
Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS)
Director of Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation
Program Faculty - PhD Program in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (AST)
585-475-7752
Jeyhan Kartaltepe headshot
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program Faculty
Director for the Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics
585-475-7514
Jason Nordhaus headshot
Assistant Professor
Department of Science and Mathematics
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences
585-475-4202
Andrew Robinson headshot
Director Astrophysical Sciences and Tech PhD Program
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
585-475-2726

Physics Education Research combines physics disciplinary knowledge with cognitive science, psychology, instructional design and social science to study fundamental and applied topics in physics education. Core areas of study at RIT include: career preparation of physics majors, communication skills for scientists, identity, diversity and inclusion in physics, student epistemic framing while problem solving, educational technology development, and graduate school admissions and retention. Physics faculty are part of a larger discipline-based education research community at RIT which includes researchers in biology, chemistry, engineering, and computing. The group is distinguished by its collaborative structure that is consciously designed to maximize interactions across the disciplines.

Research Active Faculty:

Current optics research in RIT Physics consists of a combination of theory and experiments. Theorists are focused on characterizing silicon nano-photonic networks and exploring quantum sensing and mesoscopic quantum physics.  Experimentalists are currently investigating problems in integrated photonics and imaging, including the quantification of entanglement for the purposes of computing, simulation, and secure communication. 

Research Active Faculty:

Physics faculty engaged in research on atomic and nanoscale structure and dynamics, at a variety of length and time scales, utilize and further develop x-ray, neutron, and laser light techniques and instrumentation. In addition to x-ray scattering/spectroscopy from surfaces and laser scattering from particulate or structured solutions performed at RIT, x-ray experiments are performed at national synchrotron facilities and neutron experiments take place using instruments at national spallation and reactor sources. RIT physics faculty are also developing a new spin-polarized neutron scattering technique and instrument in which the spin polarizations of sample target nuclei are selectively manipulated using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques.

Research Active Faculty:

Michael Pierce headshot
Associate Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
585-475-2089
George Thurston headshot
Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Director of Physics MS Program
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences
585-475-4549

Biological physics researchers at RIT are studying molecular interactions related to cataract disease and to the eye vitreous, using scattering techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, confocal microrheology and statistical thermodynamics modeling. Theorists are studying the roles of connectivity, structural and functional heterogeneities, and proximity to phase transitions in determining the robustness and adaptability of biological networks in cells and tissues, as well as networks of neurons. Such work can lead to design principles for bio-inspired, engineered systems. Soft matter researchers focus on understanding the physics of systems of many interacting bodies. Areas of research include using micro-fluidics and fluorescent optical imaging to study the complex fluids confined in solid phases where interactions are mediated by hydrodynamics, and using light and other scattering methods to study micellar and micro-emulsion systems. RIT physicists also study granular materials, collections of larger particles (sand, sugar, and coins) that interact primarily through contact forces. 

Research Active Faculty:

Moumita Das headshot
Associate Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences
585-475-5135
George Thurston headshot
Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science
Director of Physics MS Program
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences
585-475-4549

Research Affiliates

Manasse Mbonye (RIT-Rwanda)
Eleanor Sayre (RIT-CASTLE)

Visiting Scholars

Fred Moolekamp 

Featured Work

Student Resources

Here you will find additional resources for the School of Physics and Astronomy, such as observatory information, facility information, research, etc.

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