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‘Ghostly’ neutrinos provide new path to study protons

In groundbreaking research, scientists from the international collaboration MINERvA, including Kevin McFarland, Dr. Steven Chu Professor in Physics, have used a beam of neutrinos at Fermilab to investigate the structure of protons.

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New method to control electron spin paves the way for efficient quantum computers.

New method to control electron spin paves the way for efficient quantum computers

The method, developed by researchers including John Nichol, an associate professor of physics, overcomes the limitations of electron spin resonance.

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The Flash Center team looking at graphic information on a large viewing screen.

Flash Center moves to Rochester, advances cutting-edge physics research

The Flash Center—devoted to computer simulations to advance understanding of astrophysics, plasma science, high-energy-density physics, and fusion energy—has moved from the University of Chicago to Rochester.

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This 2010 NASA image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the entire region around Supernova 1987A.

Lasers usher in a new era of astronomy

Large-scale, laser-based experiments have recently revolutionized astrophysics, writes Rochester professor Adam Frank, allowing scientists to recreate the cosmos in science labs.

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University of Rochester illustration by Michael Osadciw depicting a theoretical asteroid city.

Cities on asteroids? It could work—in theory

A popular science fiction idea in TV shows like Amazon’s The Expanse, Rochester scientists are using physics and engineering principles to show how asteroids could be future viable space habitats.

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A graphic illustration of satellites with connections to the University.

Where Rochester has gone before

Some of the space-based telescopes and observatories with Rochester connections.

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Majors & Minors

We offer degrees in physics and in physics and astronomy, as well as many research opportunities for undergraduates.

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Graduate Studies

Our PhD programs rank in the top twenty nationwide, according to the National Research Council.

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From subatomic particles to the structure of the Universe itself, our award-winning faculty study nature on every scale.

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In the News



The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to increasing the diversity of its student body, faculty, and staff. We are a partner institution in the APS Bridge, CAMPARE, and Cal-Bridge programs.

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Life of a Cosmology Graduate Student

Zachery Brown in the lab

Growing up, I never imagined that I’d become a physicist. I always enjoyed my physics classes, but was convinced that I’d study engineering in college. Yet as a high school senior, I took an electricity and magnetism course that really caught my attention. And as it happened, I attended a small liberal arts college without an engineering program. I made the decision to major in physics instead.

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USRA Establishes the Judith L. Pipher Memorial Scholarship Award

Judy Pipher

Columbia, MD—June 27, 2022.  Universities Space Research Association (USRA) proudly announces the addition of a new award—the Judith L. Pipher Memorial Scholarship Award—to honor the memory of Dr. Judith L. Pipher. With the establishment of this new award, USRA will now routinely offer five Distinguished Undergraduate Award scholarships.

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University of Rochester scientists Judith Pipher, William Forrest & Craig McMurty have developed the infrared sensors that are expected to be deployed as part of this mission, which uses a space-based telescope to search for hazardous asteroids and comets within Earth's vicinity.

NASA Press Release

News Video 13WHAM 

Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Rygg, Assistant Professor (Research) of Mechanical Engineering and Physics, on being elected as a Fellow by the American Physical Society (APS)!

Congratulations to our 2020-21 Graduate Fellowship Winners!

  • Fatima Min-Rivas has been awarded the National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship (Advisor: Doug Kelley)
  • Christian Cammarota has been awareded the Barnard Fellowship (Advisor: Dan Bergstralh)
  • Tejin Cai has been awarded the Messermith Fellowship (Advisor: Kevin McFarland)

Natalie Allen

Natalie Allen '20 has been awarded the Universities Space Research Association (USRA)  Distinguished Undergraduate Award. 

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UR Physics Graduate students J.J. Ruby and Esteban Wright use physics to investigate 'juiced' baseballs and their effect on the homerun averages for the Rochester Red Wings. Read More

Congratulations to Carla Watson, a PhD student working as a condensed matter physics research assistant with Professor Stephen Wu. Carla has been awarded the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. She is finishing up her second year with the department of Physics and Astronomy and also serves on the executive board of our physics and astronomy student association (PASSAGE).

Professor Dan Watson, chair of Rochester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, is a member of the team under the leadership of Dr. Harvey Moseley at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center that is developing the new HIRMES instrument and its mission on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). More...

Robert Boyd Wins 2016 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science for his fundamental contributions to the field of nonlinear optics, including the development of approaches for controlling the velocity of light, of quantum imaging methods, and of composite nonlinear optical materials. More...

Rochester researchers have developed a new conceptual framework for understanding how stars similar to our Sun evolve. According to Eric Blackman, professor of physics and astronomy, the work could also “ultimately help to determine the age of stars more precisely than is currently possible.” More...

When most people think about pi, they associate the mathematical constant with arcs and circles. Mathematicians, however, are accustomed to seeing it in a variety of fields. But two University physicists were still surprised to find it lurking in a quantum mechanics formula for the energy states of the hydrogen atom. More...

A team led by professors Steven Manly and Kevin McFarland was honored “for the fundamental discovery of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics.” More...

While damage to daguerreotype plates is often visible by eye, evidence of further deterioration may only be detected at the nano level. The University is leading groundbreaking research that bridges the gap between science, history, and the arts. More...


Physics, Optics, and Astronomy (POA) Library

The POA library houses a comprehensive collection of journals, monographs and online data bases, supporting the research and teaching activities of the department.

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