The Department of Physics and Astronomy believes science is best learned, and mastered, through a combination of class work and hands-on research. Therefore, physics and astronomy faculty members are committed to promoting experiential learning outside of a classroom by involving students in collaborative scientific research on campus. Every physics/astronomy faculty member has strong independent research program as evidenced by student/faculty co-authorship on publications and presentations at professional conferences. The scientific research in our department has been funded by the grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the Research Corporation and others.

Astronomy Research Group
Faculty Leader: Dr. Ben Sugerman

Using observational data from ground and space-based observatories such as Gemini, Hubble, and Spitzer, Dr. Sugerman's research group studies what happens to stars immediately before and after they die. On the one hand, echoes of the light pulse from a supernova light up the structures that the star created prior to exploding, and Dr. Sugerman's group models the structure and composition of these environments. On the other hand, his group is also actively studying whether supernovae produce space dust, which has important implications for the evolution of the first stars and galaxies at the very beginning of the Universe. Dr. Sugerman's research is supported by grants from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes.

Materials Physics Research Group
Faculty Leader: Dr. Ali Bakhshai

Professor Bakhshai's experimental materials physics research group studies innovative methods of materials synthesis and nano-composites via mechanochemical reactions induced by ball milling techniques. The Ball-milling technique has also been used to create metallic coatings with significant hardness and corrosion-resistance properties. This method has been proven to be cost effective, environmental friendly, and easily adaptable to tonnage proportion.

Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics Research Group
Faculty Leader: Dr. Sasha Dukan

Professor Dukan's theoretical and computational physics research group studies microscopic behavior of superconductors and related materials in high magnetic fields. Superconductivity is a technology of the future and Dr. Dukan's research possibly contributes to solutions of the global energy challenge. Dr. Dukan's research group has been supported by the grants from the NSF, the Research Corporation and Goucher College.

Accelerator and Beam Physics Research Group
Faculty Leader: Dr. Rodney Yoder

Prof. Yoder's research group studies new methods for charged-particle acceleration, especially ways to power accelerators with laser energy. Accelerators are valuable tools for industry and medicine (as well as scientific research), but are room-sized and expensive.  By filling tiny resonant cavities with infrared laser radiation, we have shown that it is possible to accelerate electrons from nearly zero velocity to 95% of light speed in only a millimeter--a result that has many possible applications for future technologies.  In recent years Prof. Yoder has collaborated with the Particle Beam Physics Lab at UCLA to design, fabricate, and test microchip-sized accelerator structures built from layers of dielectric materials.  The group has also investigated similar technology for creating x- and gamma-ray sources and tested methods for creating micro-scale electron beams, including pyroelectric crystals and nanoemitters.  Our research combines experimental measurement with numerical modeling and computation.  This research has been supported by grants from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Additional Research