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.
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
Madie Martin and Hannah Means 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
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. Lewis Fulcher Retires After 49 Years at BGSU
After 49 years of teaching at BGSU, Dr. Fulcher has transitioned into a well-earned retirement. His career began by earning a B.S. at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1965, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1969. He pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Goethe Universität in Frankfurt, Germany from 1969-1971. His second postdoc was at the University of Maryland from 1971-1973. He began teaching as an Assistant Professor at BGSU in 1973, was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics in 1978, and then Professor of Physics from 1988 until his retirement in 2022.
Dr. Fulcher has many research accomplishments in his field of computational physics, including his prized article, The Decay of the Vacuum, which was published in Scientific American in 1979. Early in his career, he focused on particle physics including calculating energy orbitals in bosons, fermions, and mesons, and in the budding field of quantum chromodynamics, with some of his papers receiving well over 100 citations from other researchers. Later in his career, Lewis shifted his research to studies of the dynamics of the human glottis, working with his friend and collaborator Ron Scherer in BGSU’s department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Fulcher published 50 peer-reviewed articles and mentored 19 master’s students over his career. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 for his contributions in research, teaching, and service during his time at BGSU.
Dr. Fulcher excelled as the Department’s Graduate Coordinator, for decades helping our master’s students navigate their classes and thesis research. He is famous among them for his amazing humor and challenging homework problems.
Dr. Fulcher decided to retire after a “perfect square” of years, and the Department wishes him all the best as he moves forward. -HHM
We are deeply saddened to report that Dr. Fulcher passed away on May 9, 2023 (obituary). We mourn his passing and celebrate the light that he brought to his students and colleagues over his decades at BGSU.
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 third-year Physics and Astronomy student. I am the Vice President of SPS, Head Stargazer, and science writer (in training!) here at BGSU.
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: 05/12/2023 08:48AM