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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. In the latest (2018) US News rankings of graduate schools, two of our programs ranked highly: cosmology/relativity/gravity is ranked #9 and condensed matter is ranked #11. 

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

Portrait of Jun Zhu

Jun Zhu

I am an experimentalist studying the electronic properties of low dimensional materials and nanostructures. My projects currently focus on layered materials such as graphene, MoS2 and WSe2. These atomically thin materials possess unique electronic structures that lead to novel collective phenomena in two dimensions and create opportunities for new device concepts that are based on bottom-up, layer-by-layer assembly. We seek to understand the properties of pristine materials and exploit the role of substrate, defect, interface, stacking and heterojunctions to create new physics and functionalities, combining synthesis, nanofabrication, low-temperature transport and a suite of powerful characterization techniques. 

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

Our department has welcomed several new colleagues to our faculty in the past 2 years, including senior faculty members (Dr. B. S. Sathyaprakash, Elsbach Professor of Physics, Dr. Randall Mcentaffer, Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Professor of Physics) and junior faculty members (Dr. Carmen Carmona, Dr. Luiz de Viveiros, and Dr. Cui-zu Chang, all Assistant Professors of Physics).  We are pleased to announce that another senior faculty member, Dr. Zhiqiang Mao, will be joining as Professor of Physics in Fall 2018. We are also delighted to announce that Dr. Venkat Gopalan, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Dr. Roman Engel-Herbert, Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, have joined our faculty on courtesy appointments. All our new faculty members look forward to mentoring physics graduate students on exciting projects in experimental condensed matter physics, gravitational wave physics, and astro-particle physics!

Zhiqiang MaoRoman Engel-HerbertVenkatraman Gopalan