Physics and Astronomy

Welcome to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at BGSU! Here we explore how the universe works – from the vastness of the cosmos to the nature of subatomic particles. We do that by studying the properties of matter and energy and the laws that govern them. It’s not surprising, then, that physics and astronomy have helped us to understand our place in space-time and led the way to new technologies. With society’s ever-increasing pace, the need for discovery accelerates the demand for trained physicists. Physicists and astronomers are exceptional problem solvers with skills that are in high demand in a wide range of scientific and engineering careers in industry, academia, and government.

Students actively participate with our faculty on cutting-edge scientific research in the fields of astrophysics, materials science, nano-science, solid-state physics, and computational physics. In addition, our Planetarium and Observatory offer opportunities for astronomy research, education, and community engagement activities. These experiences are crucial for developing the credentials that graduate programs and employers seek.


For information on BGSU Planetarium shows open to the public, including dates, times, and titles please follow the link. We are deeply indebted to Dr. Kate Dellenbusch for stepping in on short notice to serve as Planetarium Director and for developing a revised Fall schedule featuring a number of Dr. Smith's favorite original shows.

We are planning an observing session for the partial solar eclipse on Saturday, October 14 that is free and open to the public. It begins with a Planetarium show at 11 a.m. Public viewing using BGSU telescopes and filter glasses will begin around noon in the area immediately west of the Planetarium, weather permitting. We will have live-stream views of the eclipse from other locations, including the track of the annular eclipse path down the US west coast, viewable from the Planetarium, from noon to 2:30 p.m. Outdoor activities are weather permitting, but all Planetarium activities will happen rain or shine.

Our Society of Physics Students (SPS) is holding a fundraiser -- please visit Chipotle in BG on Sun Oct 22 from 5-9pm and show this poster at checkout (or use the promo code N2LFMF6 for online orders) and 1/3 of sales goes to SPS. Thanks for supporting our undergrads!

We are planning a large-scale watch party for the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 that is also open and free to the public. We aim to make this an interdisciplinary event with a variety of fun and educational activies to enjoy during the time before and after our 3 minutes of totality.  We encourage interested faculty and student groups to contact us at with their eclipse-themed ideas for the event. Watch the BGSU Eclipse webpage and/or the BGSU Firelands Eclipse webpage for details. We also are planning a series of Thursday-evening talks in the Spring focused on eclipses across a variety of disciplines: dates and times coming soon.

Is Physics for you?

What can you do with a physics degree?

A degree in physics opens the door to a wide array of exciting and challenging careers.

News and Stories


Undergrads Attend CUWiP 2023

Third-year undergraduate students Madie Martin and Hannah Means attended the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) at Brown University  in mid-January. The three-day conference entailed inspirational research discussions from women in Physics, including a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Nadya Mason. Women from all walks of life spoke about their highs and lows in their careers, and offered practical and thoughtful advice for all future physicists. Madie and Hannah both had the opportunity to attend workshops conducted by students and faculty at Brown, which provided them with the tools to encourage more women to pursue Physics and Astronomy.  --HHM

2023 Awards

Each year the Department celebrates the achievements of our students through two sets of awards. The J. Robert and Gretchen Overman Awards are presented for outstanding academic achievement in Physics. This year’s Overman Awards where shared by graduate students Jacob Beavon, Kiran Lamichane, Sakshi Gupta, and Eva Mulloy, and by undergraduate students Madie Martin, Hannah Means, Zach Pearce, and Roman Williams.

The Bowman Family Undergraduate Research Award is presented annually for the highest quality independent study and research in Physics by and undergraduate. Katherine Symons received the award for her analysis of period changes among RR Lyrae variable stars in the globular star cluster M107 (learn more here).

Congratulations to all our awardees, seen below.


Dr. Dale Smith  

We are deeply saddened to announce that Dr. Dale W. Smith passed away on September 10, 2023. Dr. Smith served as a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Planetarium Director at BGSU from 1983 up until the time of his death. Before then, he graduated from Colgate University in 1970, and then earned his Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle in 1978. He was a faculty member at Bellevue Community College, Western Washington University, and Colgate University before landing here at Bowling Green State University.

Dr. Smith directed planetarium shows for the public for 40 years and enjoyed interacting with the thousands of guests who stopped by. He shared many stories of his own travels, which included visiting over sixty countries and every state in the US. He was always willing to share the new books he ordered in the mail, talk about world events, or a tell funny story from the classes he taught. He trained many students over the years on how to use the observatory telescopes and conduct successful stargaze talks.

Dr. Haowen Xi, a colleague and friend of Dr. Smith, mentioned he was a kind person who went out of his way to talk with and meet new people. He once took the time on a trip to China to introduce himself to the staff at the Beijing Planetarium, despite his being on vacation. Dale offered his neighbors back home in BG a place to stay if bad weather ever hit.

His students remember him as being passionate about the planetarium and the stargazes here on campus. He always took the time to meet the people that came through the door, and to learn about what was going on in their lives. He was essential in making the BGSU Planetarium into what it is today.   -HHM

Dale's obiturary is available online. His friends  are planning a quiet memorial gathering, inkeeping with Dale's wishes, later this year -- details pending.


Graduate Students Intern at LANL

Dr. Selim’s research stretches across several aspects of Physics, including the study of dielectrics and semiconductors. Her research group is currently building a pair of positron beams, one at BGSU and one at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which will be used to study the defects in crystalline materials. This collaboration has enabled three of her MS students to do paid internships at LANL over the past year.

Thaihang Chung has been involved in Dr. Selim’s lab since January 2022. His research involves using anti-matter to study atomic-scale defects in materials that can be used in the next generation of nuclear reactors. He enjoys particle and accelerator Physics and how the technology involved connects to large scale research at the Large Hadron Collider. Thai graduates this summer and is planning to pursue a PhD.  

Samikshya Prasai is working on her thesis, which involves characterizing deposit layers of gallium oxide in semiconductors using the positron beam. She has a background in studying metal oxide particles and nanoparticles and has been involved in her current research since January 2022. She loves the technical process of her work and is excited to see the applications of the results in places like LANL. She plans to work in the semi-conductor industry upon completion of her thesis.  

Riley Ferguson is currently at Los Alamos helping the construct the positron beam to match the one built here in BG. He has been rotating between completing course work here and conducting research in Los Alamos since Fall 2021. He loves how his research is able to track radiation damage atom by atom, which is a unique aspect of working with the positron beam. He plans to pursue a PhD in Physics after he returns from Los Alamos in Summer 2023.  

Dr. Selim’s extensive range of work has opened doors for these students, among many others, to explore Physics in exciting and innovative ways. Her ongoing relationship with LANL will provide student research opportunities for years to come.     -HHM


Who is "-HHM"?

Hello! My name is Hannah Means, and I am a fourth-year Physics and Astronomy student. I am the President of SPS, Head Stargazer, and science writer (in training!) here at BGSU.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the baccalaureate degree, students in Physics are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate thorough conceptual understanding of the basic field of physics;
  • Describe and manipulate fundamental physical constructs and solve problems with mathematics and computational methods;
  • Use basic experimental apparatus common to the study of physical phenomena;
  • Communicate scientific ideas effectively, both orally and in writing.

Accreditation and/or Program/Cluster Review
Bowling Green State University [BGSU] is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.  BGSU has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 01/01/1916. The most recent reaffirmation of accreditation was received in 2012 - 2013. Questions should be directed to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

The Physics program will undergo Program/Cluster Review during the Academic Year 2019-20.

Updated: 09/28/2023 03:15PM