Students studying physics are learning how the world works at the most fundamental level, from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. The discipline challenges to solve real-world problems, and develop discoveries that improve our lives—from healing joints, to curing diseases, to developing sustainable energy solutions.

A degree in physics gives you an academically rigorous foundation that prepares you for just about any career, and a springboard to exploring other scientific fields including chemistry, seismology, and astronomy. At UVM, your journey in physics can take the paths outlines below.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astrophysics is chiefly concerned with the physical properties of celestial bodies. Professor Joanna Rankin's research uses radiotelescopes, such as the world's largest and most sensitive one located at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, to study the radiation from distant "pulsars," highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars. This research increases our understanding of extreme states of matter and is used to study the nature of interstellar space.

Biological Physics

Biological physics applies the concepts of physics to living systems. For example, Professor Kelvin Chu's research focuses on the structural and functional consequences of dynamics of biological molecules. The projects in his lab are aimed at achieving a quantitative understanding of biological function and enzyme mechanism. In collaboration with researchers in the College of Medicine, Professor Junru Wu applies ultrasound and optics to problems in biology and medicine. Using state-of-the-art atomic force microscopy, Professor Jie Yang studies the self-assembly of biomaterials.

Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed matter physics at UVM broadly concerns the study of the properties of solids and liquids, and elucidate the connection between fundamental natural laws and macroscopic behavior of matter. Theoretical research by Professor Dennis Clougherty focuses on the dynamics of quantum systems and how it leads to the rich and complex properties of materials we observe in experiment, while Professor Valeri Kotov's research is concerned with the properties of strongly-correlated electron systems, such as graphene and high-temperature superconductors.

Materials Science

Professor Madalina Furis' research involves spectroscopic studies of the magneto-optical properties of semiconductor and nanocrystalline structures. Professor Randall Headrick's research focuses on X-ray diffraction studies of the growth and deposition of nano-scale thin films that might be useful in advanced magnetoelectric devices and new types of solar cells. Learn more about our graduate program in materials science

Henry Mitchell

Next stop: Johns Hopkins for a post-baccalaureate pre-med program

Henry Mitchell’s interests span many worlds. The math and physics major has done research with five different professors in three different departments (one of which resulted in a published paper). How? “Just knock on doors. Go places and introduce yourself,” says Mitchell. He dove into campus life, too – playing intramural soccer, DJing at WRUV, tutoring peers, and giving campus tours as an AdvoCat. Next up: Johns Hopkins for a post-baccalaureate pre-med program. An internship at Goddard Space Flight Center last summer cemented his hopes of someday seeing outer space. “I would love to be a NASA flight surgeon.”