The mission of the University of Utah Department of Physics & Astronomy is to advance knowledge about the appearances and interactions of energy and matter and of celestial objects and phenomena. We strive to share this knowledge with students and the wider community through a continuous effort in undergraduate and graduate teaching and by achieving research excellence in theoretical physics, experimental physics and astronomy.
In pursuit of our mission, the University of Utah Department of Physics & Astronomy supports the highest levels of research and teaching among its faculty members. We strive to enable the success of undergraduate and graduate students by creating an academically excellent, efficient and comfortable learning environment. The Department supports the utilization of its accomplishments for the benefit of organizations and individuals in the local as well as global community.
Our research is split into two separate factions, experimental and theoretical. Click here to learn more.
Department Newsletter - Spectrum
The Spectrum is a bi-annual publication published for friends & alumni of the Department of Physics & Astronomy.
To learn more, check out our Undergraduate Handbook.
By The Numbers
|1915||The first observatory was built on campus. It was torn down in the late 1960's to build the current James Fletcher Building.|
|1921||Thomas J. Parmley, was awarded the first Physics degree in the department in 1921. He went on to become a Professor of Physics at the University of Utah. He retired in 1997. It is estimated that he taught over 50,000 students.|
|1927||Department of Physics officially founded, consisting of Professor Orin Tugman (Chair), Professor Thomas Parmley, an undergraduate student as lab assistant, and one secretary.|
|1931 - 1987||J. Irvin Swigart, Professor of Physics: lecture hall in the James Fletcher Building (JFB 101) was named for him and his portrait hangs in the lecture hall. It is estimated that he taught over 40,000 students.|
|Oct. 4, 1957||Russia launched Sputnik and suddenly Physics became more important. Physics Departments started to expand and jobs in Physics were abundant.|
|1959||Jack Keuffel joined the faculty.|
|1961||The Engineering Hall changed its name to the South Physics building and the Physics Department moved into the building.|
|Autumn 1967||The first classes were held in the newly-built James Fletcher Building.|
|1970||The College of Science was formed - previously part of the College of Letters and Science.|
|1974||Don Groom discovers new nova, initiating Astronomy research.|
|July 2005 - Now||Z. Valy Vardeny appointed Director of the Dixon Laser Institute.|
|March 2009||"Department of Physics" changed to "Department of Physics & Astronomy".|
|May 2009||Million-dollar renovation project started on JFB, SP, and 4th floor of INSCC. Adding, among others, 5 research labs.|
|August 2009||Adam Bolton and Inese Ivans joined the faculty as tenure-track Assistant Professors. Doug Bergman joined the faculty as a tenure-track Associate Professor. Gordon Thomson joined the faculty as a tenured full Professor and the first Keuffel Endowed Chair.|
|January 2010||Shanti Deemyad, Saveez Saffarian & Michael Vershinin joined the department as tenure-track Assistant Professors.|
|2011||Pearl Sandick, Anil Seth & Zheng Zheng joined the department as tenure-track Assistant Professors.|
|August 2012||Dmytro Pesin joined the department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor.|
|Fall 2013||Vikram Deshpande & Sarah Li joined the department as a tenure-track Assistant Professors.|