Department of Physics & 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.
Congrats Academic Scholar Award Winners!
Congratulations to the 2020 UNC Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners: Tim Carlson, Noah Blair, Soren Clawson (front) BP Reeves, Zach Lakin (back).
A collaboration between San Diego State University, the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, and Prof. Chaloupka of UNC Physics published their work on the Spatial Manipulation of a Supercontinuum Beam for the Study of Vortex Interference Effects in the journal Applied Sciences. The researchers used the laser pulses from an ultrafast oscillator, along with a microstructured optical fiber and a high-resolution, large aperture spatial light modulator to generate supercontinuum optical vortices.
Dr. Charles Kuehn was part of an international team that published the first paper on the asteroseismology of red giant stars using NASA’s TESS spacecraft. Red giants, and many other types of stars, experience starquakes which cause them to pulsate, leading to small changes in their brightness which can be observed. Asteroseismologists use these starquakes to learn about the interior of stars, similar to how seismologists use earthquakes to learn about the interior of the Earth. NASA’s TESS spacecraft was launched in 2018 with goal of surveying the entire sky to look for slight changes in the brightness of stars caused by planets orbiting those stars; it’s careful measurements of the brightness of stars also make it ideal for studying starquakes. Dr. Kuehn and the rest of the team were the first people to use TESS observations to study pulsating red giants and their results indicate that not only is the TESS data good enough for asteroseismology but that in a few years it will allow us to studying the pulsations in about 500,000 red giant stars! Their results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A new article on the "Acceleration of Coronal Mass Ejection Plasma in the Low Corona as Measured by the
Citizen CATE Experiment" was published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. UNC Astronomy Professor Mariana Lazarova is a member of the CATE team.
An article by Prof. Semak of Physics & Astronomy, his student Jeremiah Schwartz, and
Prof. Heise of Sport & Exercise Science on "Examining Human Unipedal Quiet Stance: Characterizing Control Through Jerk" has been published in the journal Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine.
Explore Science: Earth & Space
Professor Lazarova and her Astronomy 100 students hosted close to one hundred 4th
graders from Scott Elementary school for an exciting day of astronomy-related hands-on
activities. Participants had a chance to (safely) explore the surface of the Sun,
discover how light interacts with matter, visualize our expanding universe, witness
how Einstein described gravity, learn how craters form, and much more!
UNC Physics major Jace Bobo poses with a proud mom and dad and an excited Prof. Chaloupka
after a stunning Bears Football win. Jace stopped a fourth quarter Idaho drive with
a play-of-the-game interception, setting up the Bears for the game-winning field goal.
Go UNC Physics and Go Bears!!
Prof. Kuehn and collaborators recently published an article in the journal Acta Astronomica on "Variable Stars in M13. III. The Cepheid Variables and their Relation to Evolutionary
Changes in Metal-poor BL Her Stars".
Profs. Charles Kuehn and Dick Dietz attended the Muscular Dystrophy summer camp at
Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, CO. They helped campers look at some binary stars,
a globular star cluster, and Jupiter through telescopes, and attendees even got to
hold one of the department meteorites.
(left-right): Sergio Chacon, Jordan French, Robert Ensley, Tyler DeVerse, Rydell Stottlemyer,
Juan Marcos Avina, Natthakan Koetchaeng, Alec Bennington, (not pictured): Daniel Herrera,
Joseph Maletta, Tyler Onufrak, Clayton Orback, Andrew Roth, Quinton Snouffer
May the Fourth
On Friday, May 3rd Dr. Charles Kuehn, Dr. Mariana Lazarova, and student Alec Bennington
visited S. Christa McAuliffe STEM Academy in Greeley as part of their annual Star
Wars Day festivities. Over 550 students learned about how we see far, far away galaxies
as they were a long time ago, how black holes work, and the differences between asteroids,
comets, meteors, and meteorites; students even got to hold a real meteorite.
Graduating physics major Clayton Orback, who has successfully completed the upper-division honors program, was awarded the Becky R. Edgerton Memorial Honors Scholarship Award for outstanding honors thesis! Congratulations Clayton, this prestigious university-wide award is the result of your hard work, creativity, and committment to your research project.
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 Marcos Avina met with members of
the aerospace community from Colorado and beyond as they discussed their projects.
Avina earned a prize for best poster in his category of research.
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.
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.