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 an exciting Spring series of shows.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is hiring a new faculty member to enhance the teaching and research opportunities in Astronomy and Astrophysics at BGSU. We are searching internationally to find the best possible candidate, who will begin work at BGSU in August 2024.  

Prepare for the total solar eclipse in BG on April 8, 2024 -- we are hostinge a series of talks with wide-ranging topics relating to science, history, music, art, and literature every Thursday evening from now to eclipse day. Visit the BGSU events webpage for topics, times and details, as well as a zoom link for remote viewing. After each lecture is completed, a recording will be available on BGSU's YouTube channel.

We will hold a large-scale watch party at the Doyt Perry stadium for the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 from noon to 4:30pm that will be free and open to the public. Free solar eclipse glasses are available to all who attend. We aim to make this an interdisciplinary event with a variety of fun and educational activies to enjoy during the hours before and after our 3 minutes of totality.  We encourage interested faculty and student groups to contact us at or 419-372-242 with their eclipse-themed activity ideas. Watch the BGSU Eclipse webpage and/or the BGSU Firelands Eclipse webpage for details and to reserve an activity exhibitor table at the stadium.  

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

Physics Majors on the Go

Barbra Kayira, a first-year graduate student, worked in Dr. Zamkov’s lab this summer after obtaining her BS in Physics. Her summer research involved analyzing the florescence, linewidth, and quantum yield of quantum dots made through multilayer structures. She is now continuing that work in her graduate studies. Her biggest challenge is conceptually understanding the behavior of nanoparticles in a physics context. However, she enjoys visibly seeing the nanoparticles fluoresce, which helps her connect what she is learning back to quantum mechanics. Barbra plans to pursue a career in industry after completing her work here at BGSU.

Patrick Knowles, a senior Physics undergrad, had the unique opportunity to finish his physics undergrad in Saltzburg, Austria this past spring. He took Solid State physics, which unlike here at BGSU, concluded with an oral exam. Patrick learned a lot about the region he was in and talked to people from all over the world. He was able to bike around the area, and he took cruises to Spain and Morocco. He also spent time diving into his family history. He now plans to pursue a PhD in applied physics or computational solid-state physics.   

Madie Martin, a senior Physics undergrad, worked in Dr. Selim’s lab this summer. Her work revolved around perfecting the operation of the BGSU Positron Beamline and using Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy to characterize defects in thin film gallium oxide samples. Her research has applications in high-powered devices because gallium oxide has outstanding material properties, making it a promising candidate for the next generation of semiconductors. She is continuing her research into this fall semester, and enjoys the hands-on work with the positron beam. She plans to earn her BS in Physics in Spring 2024.

Hannah Means, a senior Physics undergrad, completed an internship in Washington, D.C. with Physics Today. She learned how to write and edit for the magazine, and published four pieces during her time there. Two of the pieces appeared in the print version of the magazine, and two online (Physics Olympiad and a peculiar comet). She loved the fast-paced environment and interviewing people from all over the world. She hopes to keep practicing editing and strengthening her overall skills as a writer, and plans on pursuing science journalism after earning her BS in Physics in Spring 2024. 



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, on Saturday December 2, from 4:00-5:30 pm in the BGSU Planetarium. Parking is available in Lots Y, H, or R. Light refreshments will be served.

Three Physics grad students in nanoparticles lab

Diving into Dots

Dr. Zamkov's research group studies semiconductor nanomaterials, also known as quantum dots. The discovery and development of quantum dots won three scientists the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2023. BGSU’s students are helping progress this research, which has many important applications, from high color purity LED TVs to the advancement of biomedical technology. The work done in Dr. Zamkov’s lab has led to collaborations with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and more.

Graduate students Dulanjan Harnkahage, Jiamin Huang, and Barbra Kayira spend their days in the lab synthesizing nanomaterials and characterizing them with multiple techniques. They also have opportunities to work with laser spectroscopy in their research. This means they are usually working on a few different projects at a time throughout the day. Occasionally, they break away from the lab to attend a national conference on nanomaterials.

The students emphasize that the research done in Dr. Zamkov’s lab is great for careers in both academia and industry. They mention an important aspect of being involved in a new and innovative field is being able to handle failure, which happens all the time. They say to choose research that you are passionate about and allows you to learn from hardships. Trying out different research areas in the Physics and Astronomy department can help hone in your interests and help you decide if quantum dot research is the right fit for you.    



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: 02/16/2024 03:09PM