Welcome to the Department of Physics at the University of Central Florida where the commitment is to education, research and service of the highest quality. Relatively speaking, we are a young department: origins of UCF itself may be traced back to 1968, but the Physics department did not have a well defined mission until 1978 and did not assume responsibility for teaching physics to UCF undergraduates until 1982. After an interesting history which saw physics department excel in several research areas, particularly in optics and lasers, leading to the formation of CREOL which also triggered the search for new directions and strategies for rebuilding, the department has evolved into one of the most exciting, productive and forward looking physics departments in the country.
We can boast of very successful research programs in the areas of materials for energy needs, physics at the nanoscale, planetary science, surface science, biological physics, atomic and molecular physics which includes the recent addition of attosecond physics, and a conglomeration of efforts in computational physics. There are also emerging research initiatives in the areas of physics education research and mathematical physics. In the past three years, physics faculty members have published collectively about 150 papers per year and their work has been cited over 3000 times per year. Many of these publications are co-authored with graduate and undergraduate students. Our students have also been very active in presenting their research in local, regional, national, and international conferences and workshops. Several of our students have won awards for their presentations. The UCF chapter of the Society for Physics Students is one of the most active ones in the country and has been so recognized through “Outstanding Chapter Award” by the national for past five years.
Our faculty also have been recipient of several coveted awards and other distinctions. Our graduate student body is on the increase with about 90 members at present from about 16 countries and several states in the union. The departmental external funding has been rising steadily reaching over $ 5.4 million in 2009 — not a mean achievement for 21.5 tenured or tenure-track faculty. This number does not include the research funding several other physics faculty who also belong to UCF research centers ( Nanoscience and Technology Center and Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center). Close interactions with these and other research centers (several of whose faculty have secondary joint appointment in the physics department) fosters strong interdisciplinary research activities for our students and faculty. Such interdisciplinary activities are particularly useful for our undergraduates since they are expected to engage in research as part of their degree requirement.
The department values diversity in the broadest sense and is committed to creating a climate that is conducive to the intellectual and social development of a diverse group of individuals. The availability of the new Physical Sciences building will allow us to expand our horizons in research, education and community outreach in even bigger ways. We look forward to seeing you here in Orlando.
This short video provides an overview of the Physics Department’s research areas and educational programs at the University of Central Florida.