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From the Department Head

Nitin Samarth

Welcome to Physics@Penn State! I am proud to belong to a department of innovative scientists, inspiring teachers, creative students, and accomplished alumni. Whether you are an alumnus, friend, prospective student or a casual visitor, I invite you to browse our website and learn about the exciting discoveries Penn State physicists are making at the frontiers of knowledge. According to a multi-year study released by the National Research Council (NRC) in 2010, we are in the top echelon (10-15) of physics departments in the United States (see the phds.org website). We also invite you to visit the Eberly College of Science website for a comprehensive overview about the NRC rankings for all departments in our college.

We also seek to attract faculty, graduate students and postdocs to join our department. If you are interested in becoming part of our community, please consult the "Jobs" tab on our web page for current opportunities.

— Nitin Samarth, George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head

nsamarth [at] psu [dot] edu

Meet Our Faculty

Miguel Alejandro Mostafá

Miguel Alejandro Mostafá

I am an experimentalist studying the most energetic and rarest of particles in the Universe. While much progress has been made in nearly a century of research in understanding cosmic rays with low to moderate energies, those with extremely high energies remain mysterious. Something out there is hurling these incredibly energetic particles around the Universe. Do these particles come from some unknown super-powerful cosmic explosion? Or from a huge black hole sucking stars to their violent deaths? Or maybe from colliding galaxies? We don't yet know the answers, but we do know that solving this mystery will take us one step forward in understanding our Universe.
My research interests include the origin of cosmic rays, acceleration mechanisms, particle physics at energies above terrestrial accelerators, and gamma-ray astronomy and the structure of the Galaxy.

Research experience for undergraduates

The department provides many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research. Direct research experience is exciting, and a great way to prepare for careers in science and engineering.

Wei Huang makes adjustments to a microwave-electronicassembly for a laser spectroscopy setup used in a Bose-Einstein condensationapparatus.

If you're interested in doing research, feel free to explore the research programs in the department and our Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program.

New faculty expand physics at Penn State

We are delighted to welcome several new colleagues to our faculty this academic year! Dr. B. S. Sathyaprakash, Elsbach Professor of Physics, enhances our presence in gravitational wave physics. Dr. Randall Mcentaffer, Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Professor of Physics, develops X-ray instrumentation for high throughput, high resolving power astrophysical observations. Dr. Carmen Carmona and Dr. Luiz de Viveiros, both Assistant Professors in Physics, work on the detection of dark matter in the LUX and LZ collaborations. Dr. De Viveiros is also a member of Project8, aimed at a high precision measurement of the neutrino mass. Dr. Cui-zu Chang, Assistant Professor of Physics, pioneered the experimental study of topological insulators and carried out the first observation of the quantum anomalous Hall insulator. Dr. Michael Smitka, Lecturer in Physics, joins our team of faculty in charge of introductory courses.