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The Department of Physics and Astronomy

We provide students a complete and rigorous undergraduate education in physics culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree. Our curriculum provides the ideal preparation for physics or engineering graduate school, careers in scientific research, or professions as educators. We are a dedicated faculty that is passionate about teaching and we are committed to the meaningful involvement of undergraduates in research. With small class sizes and varied research opportunities, we offer a unique learning opportunity for students interested in the natural sciences.

Physics & Astronomy Seminar
Friday 4/26 in Ross 0220 @ 3:30pm

Brian Smith, UNC: Space GPS Using Pulsars
Tyler Deverse, UNC: A Low-Cost Raman Spectrometer



Rio Grande Restaurant, Wednesday May 1, 4:30-7:30pm

Space Research Symposium

Five students from UNC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy presented their research at the 2019 Colorado Undergraduate Space Research Symposium held at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Their work was sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. The COSGC is funded by NASA and is a state-wide organization involving 21 colleges, universities and institutions around Colorado. UNC students Rydell Stottlemyer, Brian Smith, Robert Ensley, Quinton Snouffer, and Juan Avina met with members of the aerospace community from Colorado and beyond as they discussed their projects. Juan Avina earned a prize for best poster in his category of research.

UNC Physics Atom Bear

APS April Meeting

UNC Physics & Astronomy was well represented at the American Physical Society April Meeting held in Denver April 13-16, with three poster presentations and an oral presentation. Pictured here, Juan Marcos Avina, Clayton Orback, and Noah Blair discuss their research with interested meeting participants.

 UNC Physics at APS April Meeting

Demosat Launch!!!

Undergraduate students from UNC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy designed, constructed, and tested an experiment that was part of a balloon payload launched from Eaton Middle School in Eaton, CO on April 6th. Their work is a part of the DemoSat Program conducted by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.  UNC is one of twenty-one higher-learning institutions in the consortium. Rydell Stottlemyer and Brian Smith designed a container that minimizes the pressure changes experienced during high-altitude flight. Many balloon experiments require that the pressure remain relatively constant and close to one atmosphere. Their container will serve as the template for future payloads.  

The flight went smoothly as the balloon reached a maximum altitude of approximately 14 miles. With their payload recovered, Rydell and Brian are currently analyzing the data collected by several sensors which were programmed to function autonomously during the balloon’s journey.

 UNC Physics DemoSat Launch 2019


The famous science fiction Arthur C. Clark stated that “ Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Actually the technology or science does not have to be that particularly advanced to appear to be magic. Dr. Courtney Willis, Dr. Charles Kuehn, and UNC Physics students Marcos Avina and Sergio Chacon will astound you with several entertaining demonstrations that at first might appear to be magic but are really just cool science. Join us on Saturday, April 13th at 2:00pm at Loveland Aleworks to learn some fun science that will impress your friends, enjoy some great beer, and compete in some science trivia for a chance to win prizes!

Loveland Aleworks


Congratulations to the 2019 UNC Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners! Awardees were honored at the NHS ceremony on Sunday, March 3. Pictured left to right: Juan Marcos Avina, Natthakan Koetchaeng, Alec Bennington, Noah Blair, Quinton Snouffer, and Sergio Chacon.

 UNC Physics ASA 2019

Physics & Foam

UNC Physics & Astronomy presented at another successful Physics & Foam event at Loveland Aleworks. Check out the UNC Mirror article and video!

 UNC Mirror Physics Article

Dynamics Days Conference

UNC Physics presented a poster at the Dynamics Days conference held at Northwestern University January 4-6 2019 on Examining Human Unipedal Quiet Stance: Smoothness.

 dynamics days

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing Event

A total lunar eclipse will be visible across the United States on Sunday, January 20th. This will be the last total lunar eclipse anywhere in the world until 2021 and the last one visible in Colorado until September, 2025. If you would like to view the eclipse through a telescope, you can join members of the University of Northern Colorado Physics and Astronomy department at a special eclipse viewing session at the UNC Astronomy Lab.

total lunar eclipse

UNC Astronomy Outreach

Prof. Mariana Lazarova and her intrepid Astronomy 100 students held a massively successful outreach event for 100 local 4th grade students at the University Center. Students took part in fifteen activities on topics ranging from the sun, the moon, and the galaxy, to filtered light, rockets, dark matter, and climate change.

Lazarova UNC Astronomy Outreach

APS Four Corners Section Meeting

UNC Physics students Sergio Chacon, Maya Davidson, and Tyler Onufrak recently attended the APS Four Corners Section Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. Maya served on the organizing committee, and Tyler presented his work on Imaging and Mapping of Quantum-Like Behavior in a Hydrodynamic System.

 UNC Physics Tyler Onufrak at APS 4CS

UNC Astronomy Day

UNC Physics and Astronomy took part in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Astronomy Day. Profs. Mariana Lazarova and Charles Kuehn talked about Astronomy and Light, and engaged visitors with hands-on activities.

UNC Astronomy Day


Congratulations to the 2018 Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners: (top L-R) Joshua Fender, John Ringler, (bottom L-R)  Clayton Orback, Andrew Roth, (not pictured: Rydell Stottlemeyer, Caleb Dahlke).

2018 ASA Winners UNC Physics


Dr. Semak was awarded the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award at the NHS Excellence Awards Ceremony held on February 1, 2018.

UNC Physics Semak Award

APS Four Corners Section Meeting

UNC Physics presented three talks and four posters at the APS Four Corners Section Annual Meeting held at CSU: 

Doing Research with Undergraduates in a Bachelor's-only Physics and Astronomy Department: Challenges and Successes (Dr. Semak), Ionization Dynamics in Intense Bicircular Laser Fields (Dr. Chaloupka), Thermodynamic Studies of Phase Transitions in Inflationary Cosmology  (Dr. Mallory), Measuring Atmospheric Muon Flux during the 2017 Solar Eclipse (Fender, Ringler, Morse), Electroencephalography and the Mechanical Operation of an Exoskeletal Arm (Helms, Zadina), Postural Control: A Sample Entropy Approach to One-Legged Stance (McMillan), Biomimicry: Designing and Building a Multilegged Robot (Sweitzer).

APS Physics

Physical Review A Publication

UNC Physics teamed up with CU-Boulder, publishing their recent work on  Observation of Ionization Enhancement in Two-Color Circularly Polarized Laser Fields  in Physical Review A.

counter rotating fields trajectories

CO-WY AAPT Meeting

UNC Physics was well represented at the Colorado-Wyoming Section Meeting of the AAPT, where students presented FIVE posters:

Biomimicry: Design and Construction of a Mulitlegged Robot (Sweitzer), Investigating the Impact of a Solar Eclipse on Atmospheric Radiation (Fender, Ringler, Morse, Angstead), Postural Control: A Sample Entropy Approach to One-Legged Stance (McMillan, Semak, Heise), Electroencephalograpy and the Mechanical Operation of an Exoskeletal Arm (Helms, Zadina), Psychoacoustics: Understanding Sonic Intelligibility (Briggs)

 UNC Physics at 2017 CoWy AAPT


Congratulations to the Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners, seen here with Professor Matt Semak at the NHS College event. (top, L-R): Semak, William Mendoza, Ryan Fabian, Arick Sweitzer, (bottom, L-R): Alexandra Briggs, Kourteney Zadina, and Zachary Rossiter.

UNC Physics Academic Scholars 2017

Bears Go Big

UNC Bears go out into the world to do BIG and significant work. Meet Adam Wilson, Founder of Sphero and a 2010 UNC Physics Alum.

UNC helped me prepare for my success [and] gave me the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research.

See other Bears going big.