Physics and Astronomy
Professors Booker (Chair), Bennett, Ruiz; Associate Professor Perkins; Assistant Professors Lundgren; Senior Lecturer Beck; Lecturer Wake
The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a range of concentrations well suited to students intending to pursue advanced work in graduate school, or careers in education, industry, government, and science communication. Students may elect one of four concentrations: Preparation for Graduate School, Applied Physics, Physics with Teacher Licensure, and Physics with Comprehensive Science Licensure.
The department is dedicated to excellence in undergraduate instruction. The professional interests of the faculty cover a wide range of current research in physics and astronomy, and the size of the department affords ample opportunity for the close studentfaculty contact we consider a major asset of our program at UNC Asheville.
The department offers a wide range of activities and opportunities in physics and astronomy. Our elective classes and rigorous curricula provide excellent formal introductions to these fields of study. In addition to coursework, a multitude of research opportunities on campus enable students to work hands on with advanced instruments (for example in: electron microscopy, spectroscopy, lasers and optics, and acoustics) and to explore cuttingedge data from telescopes in space and on the ground.
The Physics major and Astronomy minor complement related natural sciences and liberal arts offerings at UNC Asheville, with the goal of broadening students’ scientific perspectives through the application of scientific methods and knowledge to empirical observations of the universe. The various physics major concentrations offer students flexibility to tailor their electives towards advanced study, applied fields, or careers in education, outreach, and teaching. The astronomy minor facilitates two paths: one is designed for physical science majors and provides a rigorous preparation suitable for graduate studies in physics and astrophysics; the other is open to students of all majors, who are interested in a comprehensive study of astronomy from historical and applied perspectives. Students with a professional interest in astronomy are encouraged to combine the astronomy minor with a physics major, since a thorough grounding in fundamental physics is required for graduate studies in astronomy. As graduate programs increasingly prefer students to have undergraduate research experience, many students supplement the required coursework with independent undergraduate research.
Students pursuing the Astronomy minor at UNC Asheville have access to unique research and outreach facilities, such as the on-campus Lookout Observatory, which offers free public observing nights each month, weather permitting, and where many of our students are also employed part-time as docents. Through our faculty’s active participation in external research collaborations, our students additionally benefit from access to exclusive data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Hubble Space Telescope. UNC Asheville is a member institution in the North Carolina Space Grant Consortium, which provides funds to support educational research and projects, and our students are eligible to apply for North Carolina Space Grant scholarships.
Physics and Astronomy