Research

The Department of Physics is committed to the process of creating and disseminating new knowledge, and preserving the knowledge created by previous generations of physicists through the principle of combining research and teaching. Our roughly 30 faculty members—including one member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Nobel Prize winner, and 14 Fellows of the American Physical Society—have diverse research interests that range from astrophysics to materials science. The faculty is awarded more than $8 million in external research grants each year.


Teacher sitting in front of lab equipment

Research Areas

Research in the Department of Physics spans a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Astrophysics and astronomy
  • Biophysics
  • Condensed matter theory
  • Geophysics
  • Nuclear physics
  • Quantum information science
  • Statistical mechanics
  • Atomic, molecular, and optical physics
  • Chemical physics
  • Elementary particle physics
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics education research
  • Solid state physics
  • Superfluid mechanics


 


Physics Colloquium

The Department of Physics invites top researchers from around the world to present their discoveries throughout the year as part of our Physics Colloquium series.


Raghuveer Parthasarathy

Fostering Innovative Research

“The physics department at the UO harbors genuine curiosity about physics in all its forms. The weekly colloquia at which we gather span topics from dark matter to flowing sand, reflecting a broad interest in the field as a whole rather than narrow niches. This perspective helps foster innovative research, guiding conversations within the department as well as fruitful collaborations beyond it.”

—Raghuveer Parthasarathy, professor of physics


Research Facilities

Designed specifically for the Department of Physics, Willamette Hall offers introductory physics laboratories equipped with microcomputers to aid students in data acquisition and analysis. Significant funding from grants has provided up-to-date equipment for advanced laboratories in laser optics, electronics, and instrumentation. Physics graduate students also routinely work at various external research facilities, including:

CAMCOR facility student research

CAMCOR

CCAMCOR is a full service, comprehensive materials characterization center housed in the Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories on campus. It houses state-of-the-art equipment for microanalysis, surface analysis, electron microscopy, and semiconductor device fabrication.

 

VizLab student in front of large screen

Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library

The physics department is conveniently located next door to the newly renovated Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library where our students have access to a variety of resources including 3D printers, laser cutters, and a high-definition visualization lab.

CERN lab

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, operated by CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, is the world's largest and highest-energy particle collider. It was built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and hundreds of universities and laboratories, as well as more than 100 countries.

LIGO lab

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory designed to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.



Sara Tosi

Explore Research Opportunities

“The research opportunities for undergraduates in the Physics department both encouraged me to work harder in my classes and to explore what areas of physics I would want to pursue as a career. The research teams I joined taught me how to effectively communicate, write papers, and conduct research. These skills spilled into my classes, which helped me to better understand questions and how to effectively ask my own questions. These research opportunities I had have enabled me to be an effective scientist within any professional setting.”

—Sara Tosi, physics major, '23


News

February 28, 2024
PHYSICS - Kayla Nguyen, assistant professor in physics, has co-led the development of a new approach that allows scientists to see individual atoms and the way they fit together under an electron microscope, without the multimillion-dollar price tag that such ability typically commands. Nguyen's research was published in the Feb. 22 issue of the journal Science.
August 21, 2023
PHYSICS - Physicist Richard Taylor and environmental sociologist Richard York of the University of Oregon examine the beauty and benefits of fractal patterns in the natural world—and the need to protect that world from an ever-growing built environment.
April 14, 2023
PHYSICS - For the first time, scientists have detected neutrinos created by a particle collider, and University of Oregon physicists are part of the international team that made the advance.