Welcome to the Department of Physics and Astronomy

The University

Located in the town of Orono, along the banks of the Stillwater River, the University offers a strong education at an affordable price.

The state’s land grant and sea grant university and the flagship institution in the University of Maine System, UMaine is one of New England’s premier universities. Our students create success stories — with a wide variety of programs and opportunities — and we do so with world-class faculty members; internationally recognized research; first-rate facilities; a friendly, safe atmosphere; and easy access to some of the best year-round recreation sites in the nation.

The University of Maine recognizes that it is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, where issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites, are ongoing. Penobscot homeland is connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations — the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac — through kinship, alliances and diplomacy. The university also recognizes that the Penobscot Nation and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination.

The Department

We are comprised of 14 faculty members, 25-30 graduate students, ~75 undergraduate majors, 2 support staff members and a planetarium director.  On the undergraduate side, we offer BA and BS degrees in physics and engineering physics (EPS).  We also offer minors in both physics and astronomy.  For graduate programs, we have a doctoral program in physics and Master’s programs in physics and engineering physics. Our research specializations focus on the edges of physics as a discipline: biophysics, materials and sensor physics, physics education, and astrophysics.

Our department is characterized by active participation by students in the learning process.  Our faculty use state-of-the-art pedagogical methods and materials developed from research on the learning and teaching of physics.  Students are actively engaged in building conceptual understanding as well as solving traditional problems – from introductory mechanics to statistical mechanics.  Students have opportunities to be peer instructors as Maine Learning Assistants in the very classes they completed the previous year.  Our faculty have a long tradition of including undergraduates in research, either as part of senior capstone projects or just because they can.

Our department is big enough to have a variety of offerings for coursework and research opportunities, but small enough to be a community that supports each other in multiple ways. 

Our faculty have earned awards at UMaine and across the world for scholarship, teaching, and service.  We have faculty who have been cited in Nobel lectures or Nobel scientific background literature. We have Fellows of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  We have a Humboldt Award winner and a Fulbright Scholar. We have winner of the UMaine Presidential Presidential Public Service Achievement Award, and winners of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award, the CLAS Outstanding Lecturer Award, and the CLAS Service and Outreach Award.

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