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About Us

The Department of Physics and Astronomy sits within the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences and it directs the studies of about fifty undergraduate students and about fifty graduate students. The department offers a comprehensive suite of undergraduate and graduate courses covering core topics and departmental specialties that lead to a full slate of degree options from a Physics or Astronomy Minor to a Ph.D. All of our students gain a well-rounded exposure to theory, experiment, and simulation throughout their academic career. A variety of undergraduate research opportunities are available and our graduate research programs are active and cutting edge.

Our department offers nine internal scholarships dedicated specifically to our undergraduate majors and graduate students. Additionally, we provide guidance on obtaining graduate and undergraduate financial support from campus wide, regional, and other external resources. Concerning employment prospects, the department maintains connections to organizations that hire physicists within Kansas City, the country, and abroad so that when you graduate you will have a wide array of career opportunities available.

Our department has a fun and friendly student culture that is focused on shared success, intellectual exploration, and social camaraderie. This is evidenced through the Society of Physics Students, the Astro-Hour group, and the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Society. If you like the idea of stretching your creative scientific spirit while enjoying a classic college campus within a major metropolitan center, then UMKC Physics and Astronomy is the place to be.

Check out our “Why Study Physics?” and “Why Study Astronomy?” pages to learn why physics and astronomy are excellent choices that will kick-start you into a great future.

Astro-Hour

We meet every Friday during the semester from 12:00 to 1:00 in Flarsheim Hall room 256 (a.k.a. The departmental conference room.)

Astro-Hour is a student led organization that is dedicated to the enjoyment of the study of the universe on the largest and the smallest scales. This active group is open to any UMKC student that wants to have some fun and learn about the fascinating universe that we live in. Every meeting typically has 10-15 attendees and is organized around a student led discussion about recent discoveries, instrumentation advances, or unresolved problems in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. If you participate, you will get to learn about these fascinating topics in a venue that is friendly to discussion at every level. As a bonus, the Astro-Hour group has strong ties with the Astronomical Society of Kansas City and they frequently make arrangements to coordinate outings and activities.

Become a Student

The UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy is a dynamic and full-featured organization that is dedicated to providing all of the students that come through its doors with a comprehensive and cutting edge education. We believe that a broad array of technical skills layered on top of a solid scientific foundation is critical for students like you to be able to compete with confidence in any of the diverse career opportunities that are open to our graduates.

Sometimes the choice is easy, but other times you want to study your options carefully before proceeding. We created “Why Study Physics” and “Why Study Astronomy” pages to help in your decision making process. We encourage you to browse through those pages and the rest of our web site. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

CAS Dean’s Fall Reception presents Faculty and Staff Awards

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce one staff award and four sets of faculty awards that were presented at the annual CAS Dean’s Fall Reception on September 11.

Faculty Awards are as follows:

Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Award (awarded to a tenure-track or tenured faculty member)

Royall Distinguished Professors (honors faculty committed to research excellence, creativity, and interdisciplinarity, as well as pedagogy)

Bernardin Research Development Grant (recipients are granted support to prepare a grant proposal in their chosen area of research)

Haskell Distinguished Research Award (recipients receive an award to support the completion of a scholarly project or creative work)

Staff Award is as follows:

Outstanding Staff Member

(awarded to recognize outstanding contributions made by staff members who are employed by the College of Arts & Sciences with strong characteristics including: respectful, responsible, resourceful, receptive, responsive, and reasonable)

Colliding Neutron Stars Produce Gold, Silver and Platinum

A conversation with Mark Brodwin, assistant professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Physics and Astronomy

Scientists recently witnessed the spectacle of colliding neutron stars. What are they?

Brodwin: When a very massive star runs out of fuel to burn, it explodes in a huge supernova leaving behind a neutron star or, if the star is very massive, a black hole. A neutron star is a very compact ball of neutrons with the extreme density of an atomic nucleus. A typical neutron star has a mass twice that of our sun, but a size about that of Overland Park. It’s so dense that a teaspoon would weigh about as much as Mount Everest! Continue reading

Colloquia

The colloquia are held every other Friday according to the posted schedule from 3:30 to 4:30 in Flarsheim Hall room 310. Please join us at prior to the presentation starting at 3:15 for coffee, cookies, and conversation.

The UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts the university’s longest running colloquium series. Part of what has led to such a long and successful tenure is the diversity of the speakers and the wide array of fields that they come from, including those beyond the traditional boundaries of physics and astronomy. Additionally, the hosted speakers are invited to present a talk on any topic of their interest, not necessarily just their most recent or active area of research. The openness to content, diverse fields of study, and set of perspectives from academia, government labs, and industry has maintained the popularity of the series throughout the years.

Our schedule for the Fall 2018 semester is as follows:

Date Speaker Institution Title Host
Aug. 24 Physics & Astronomy Faculty UMKC 2018-2019 Departmental Welcome Session for all Physics and Astronomy Students Brodwin, Rulis
Sept. 07 Dr. Jonelle Walsh Texas A&M TBA Brodwin
Sept. 21 Dr. Gurtina Besla University of Arizona TBA Brodwin
Oct. 05 Dr. Jie Tang NIMS Japan & Univ. of Tsukuba TBA Zhu
Oct. 19 TBA TBA TBA TBA
Nov. 02 Prof. Hartwin Peelaers University of Kansas TBA Rulis
Nov. 16 Prof. Surojit Gupta University of North Dakota TBA Ching
Nov. 30 TBA TBA TBA TBA

Computational

Researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy often require computing power or specialized computer systems that exceed that capabilities of those that are available on the UMKC campus. This may include the need to make use of massively parallelized machines, machines with specialized visualization software, hybrid CPU/GPU type systems, machines with field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), extra-large data sets, extreme memory requirements, etc.

To satisfy the demand, many groups make use of the computers that are maintained as a part of the University of Missouri Research Computing Support Services (UM-RCSS), the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, and various National Science Foundation resources through the XSEDE umbrella program (e.g. the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)). Most of the machines require specific requests by faculty members to be able to make student accounts on them and thus the requests are typically tied to specific research projects. Additionally, the systems that are managed by DOE and NSF require annual allocation requests for time on specific machines. Undergraduate students that participate in research often have the opportunity to work on such machines.

Contact Us

General Contact Information:

Address:
UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy
257 Flarsheim Hall
5110 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110

Phone: 1-816-235-1604

Fax: 1-816-235-5221

Email: physics-astronomy@umkc.edu

Specific Points of Contact:

Position / Location Name / Email Office Phone
Department Chair Prof. Fred Leibsle 1-816-235-2502
Co-Graduate Academic Advisor Prof. Paul Rulis 1-816-235-5945
Co-Graduate Academic Advisor Prof. Mark Brodwin 1-816-235-2508
Undergraduate Academic Advisor
(Physics)
Prof. Elizabeth Stoddard 1-816-235-2511
Undergraduate Academic Advisor
(Astronomy)
Prof. Dan McIntosh 1-816-235-5324
Graduate TA Supervisor Prof. Elizabeth Stoddard 1-816-235-2511
Outreach Coordinator Prof. Bob Riggs 1-816-235-2506
Machine Shop Mr. Steve Siegel 1-816-235-1687
SPS President Ryan Doucette N/A

Culture

Physics and Astronomy are fundamental sciences that explore the very essence of the universe and our existence within it. Because of the immense range of time and length scales that Physics and Astronomy cover, we find that they reveal in humanity a unique juxtaposition of absolute insignificance and vital importance. Through that juxtaposition we see an inextricably linked dependency among all things and thus all life and thus all persons regardless of status in any of the official classes protected by US law, but also extending to gender identity, sexual orientation, relationship status, etc. even to include percent representation in the fields of Physics and Astronomy.

The view of the faculty, staff, students, and associates of the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy is that we are all on this grand expedition together. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and we help each other up and dust each other off after a failure. We stand ready to support each other with flexibility and understanding when the work, family, and social facets of our lives compete for finite time.

Ours is a culture of shared success, individual growth, and an unyielding mission to explore the mysteries of nature and to share what we discover with the world.

Degree Programs

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a comprehensive suite of undergraduate and graduate courses covering core topics and departmental specialties that lead to a full slate of degree options from a Physics or Astronomy Minor to a Ph. D.

All of our students gain a well-rounded exposure to theory, experiment, and simulation throughout their academic career. A variety of undergraduate research opportunities are available and our graduate research programs are active and cutting edge.

We make an extra effort to provide every student with personalized academic advising, plan of study development, and guidance through all administrative processes with checklists, forms, and templates.

Experimental

Despite the extensive collection of on-site resources, researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy often require the use of instrumentation beyond that which is available directly within the department or from our local collaborators (e.g. Oral Biology, Chemistry, and Geosciences). Typically this includes the need to make use of advanced electron microscopes and neutron or x-ray beam lines such as those maintained by the National Science Foundation and/or the Department of Energy’s Office of Science listed below.

Advanced Photon Source
The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory

Advanced Light Source
The Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

National Synchrotron Light Source
The National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Faculty and Staff Directory

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Faculty Research Groups

Caruso-Paquette Group
Group Web Site
Leads: Prof. Anthony Caruso and Prof. Michelle Paquette
Area: Experimental studies of the electronic structure of solids.
Galaxy Evolution Group
Group Web Site
Leads: Prof. Mark Brodwin and Prof. Daniel H. McIntosh
Area: Observational studies of galaxy evolution and the growth of cosmological large-scale structures
Electronic Structure Group
Group Web Site
Lead: Prof. Wai-Yim Ching
Area: Computational and theoretical studies of the fundamental structure of materials
Computational Physics Group
Group Web Site
Lead: Prof. Paul Rulis
Area: Development and application of computational methods for the study of nanoscale materials

Favorite Places

Reference/Resource Sites

US Government Organizations

Just Plain Cool

Graduate Information

We offer you a full suite of graduate degree options:
  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D.: The signature program of the UMKC School of Graduate Studies permits students to span traditional academic boundaries by selecting compatible coordinating and co-disciplines to meet the challenges of the future.

  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Coordinating Discipline Role: Pursue research in applied electronics physics, materials physics, or extra-galactic astronomy by becoming a student-partner with our faculty in their specific areas of expertise.

  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Co-Discipline Role: The broad applicability of physics along with the diverse technical and foundational expertise of our faculty entice many prospective students that have chemistry, geology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science as their primary discipline to select physics as their co-discipline.

  • Master of Science in Physics: Our popular research thesis and non-thesis options are available to suit your future academic and career goals.

Students graduating with a M.S. Degree in Physics will:
  • Be able to integrate their knowledge, experience, and critical thinking skills to solve new and challenging problems in their chosen career field.

  • Demonstrate an ability to develop or autonomously extend a research project that advances fundamental or applied scientific understanding.

  • Be able to communicate effectively with technical and nontechnical audiences with clear and articulate oral or written discourse.

  • Understand how to make effective use of diverse information resources such as published scientific literature, technical databases, and other forms of authoritative internet-based content.

Students graduating with a Physics-based Ph.D. Degree will:
  • Have all the foundational knowledge of a M.S. Degree.

  • Demonstrate an ability to formulate and execute a frontier-level independent research project.

  • Be able to expertly communicate with technical and nontechnical audiences using clear and articulate oral or written discourse.

  • Master the effective use of diverse information resources such as published scientific literature, technical databases, and other forms of authoritative internet-based content.

Graduates of our graduate program generally find that:
  • The rigorous training they receive in a physics program helps their career advancement regardless of whether or not their chosen career field is science and technology related.

  • Their broad exposure to different areas of science is beneficial if they take on leadership positions in organizations with diverse science and engineering components.

There are opportunities for support:
  • Entering graduate students often receive part-time employment as teaching or research assistants with a stipend and remission of a major part of their tuition.

  • Students making satisfactory progress are normally supported all the way through to the attainment of their degree.

  • The Department and the University offer a number of fellowships and scholarships to graduate students that have excellent standing in their course work and research efforts.

  • Faculty offer guidance to their students on obtaining nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships from government agencies and corporate or private foundations.

Admissions Criteria:
  • The standard UMKC requirements for Graduate students apply.

Course Offerings:
  • Physics: Technical, graduate-level theoretical physics classes that cover the full spectrum of physical phenomena and their mathematical models with an emphasis on condensed matter physics according to our faculty specialties.

  • Astronomy: Technical, graduate-level classes that cover astronomical entities from stars to galaxies to the cosmos as a whole along with the methods used to observe them according to our faculty specialties.

  • Read our catalog pages for details.

Forms and Documents:

Fabrication Shop

Overview:

Welcome to the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy machine/fabrication shop. Our goal is to provide services and solutions to researchers and students that need custom machining or manufacturing. Staffed by Steve Siegel, M.S.A.L, and John Self, Machinist, the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy main machine shop offers a diverse array of fabrication and repair abilities, including welding, painting, electronics equipment diagnosis and repair, construction of new electronic devices, optical projects, sheet-metal fabrication, and a wide selection of machining capabilities. With experience in machining plastics, Teflon, glass, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and more, the machine shop personnel provides CNC machining for complex parts and assemblies as well as complete cost-effective multiple-part orders.

For questions regarding the machine shop, please contact:
Steve Siegel
Email: siegelsf@umkc.edu
Office: (816) 235-1687
Fax: (816) 235-5221

To Request Work: Work Request

Services and Equipment:
Professional Fabrication Shop

At the Fabrication Shop we are able to perform many services such as, welding, painting, electronics equipment diagnosis and repair, construction of new electronic devices, optical projects, sheet-metal fabrication, and a wide selection of machining. The shop also offers CNC machining for complex parts and assemblies, as well as a cost-effective solution for multiple-part orders.

  • Arc Welding: MIG and TIG
  • Milling Machines: 9″ × 49″ Manual and 15″ × 2″ CNC
  • Lathes: 3″ × 8″ and 16″ × 60″
  • Band Saws: Vertical and Horizontal
  • Surface Grinders
  • Oxygen Acetylene Torch
  • Sand Blaster
  • Small Piece Heat Treating
  • Materials That We Machine:
    • Aluminum
    • Copper
    • Glass
    • Plastics
    • Stainless Steel
    • Teflon
    • And More…

For questions regarding the machine shop, please contact:
Steve Siegel
Email: siegelsf@umkc.edu
Office: (816) 235-1687
Fax: (816) 235-5221

To Request Work: Work Request

Completed Projects:

The Fabrication Shop has completed many projects for various research groups, including complex constructions that require precision CNC milling. Here are a few examples of our work:

completed_AcousticSpeedMeasurer
completed_ColdFingersCryogenics
completed_DACPressureChangerGearbox
completed_DACs
completed_DACThicknessGauge
completed_FaradayCage
completed_FaradayCageAndHeatExchanger
completed_HandheldRadDetectorAndModerator
completed_HeatExchanger
completed_HighVacuumValve
completed_HybridVehicleSimulator
completed_HybridVehicleSimulator2
completed_MotorizedPressureChamber
completed_NeutronDetectionModerators
completed_NeutronDetectorsAndModerator
completed_OpticalFilters
completed_PhotoelectricEffectStudentWorkstation
completed_PlasmaVaporDepMask
completed_PlasmaVaporDepMasksAndHolder
completed_SampleExchangeArm
completed_SlayerExciter

Meet Our Students

Physics and Astronomy students at UMKC come from all over the world and explore diverse interests. Get to know our students, and you’ll learn about our programs.

Scott

Scott Thompson

“UMKC has given me the opportunity to discover my potential as a student, and it helped give me confidence to work hard to become the best person that I can be. — Scott Thompson, BS in Physics with Astronomy Emphasis expected 2019

Scott is a returning, non-traditional student. He was a Graphic Design major until he started to pursue his passion for science in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It is through his studies here that he feels he can make the most positive impact on society.

Cemile

Cemile Senem Arabaci

“UMKC is a friendly, warm, and multicultural place for life-long learning.” — Cemile Senem Arabaci, BS in Physics, Honors College, Class of 2021

Cemile is one of our international students and her hometown is Çanakkale, Turkey. Now she is doing undergraduate research in the Lab of Curators’ Prof. Wai-Yim Ching on the electronic structure and properties of complex materials.

Nick

Nick Putnam

“I find the students and faculty within the department enthusiastic, helpful, and focused. It is a pleasure to study here!” — Nick Putnam, BS in Physics with Astronomy Emphasis expected 2019

Nicholas is a non-traditional student and former survey technician from Indianapolis, IN. He currently studies the relationship between merging black holes and star formation rates within the Galaxy Evolution Group. He often enjoys art fairs, live music, and festivals in the KC metro area.

Heather

Heather Thompson

“This department has allowed me to excel at something I never thought would have been possible.” — Heather Thompson, MS in Physics with research thesis expected 2020

Heather is a returning, non-traditional student. She was a Biology major who wanted to go to medical school until she took her first physics and calculus classes at UMKC…after that, she knew that physics was what she wanted to focus on.

Jeff

Jeff Scully

“The UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy is a place where the professors care and also challenge you to work harder than you have before.” — Jeff Scully, BS in Physics expected 2020

Jeff is a non-traditional student who has returned to classes after a career in the construction industry. While studying physics he is also participating in it by doing experimental materials research in the Caruso group. This is just the kind of experience he wants to be equipped with when he graduates.

Puja

Puja Adhikari

“Being an international student from Nepal I was nervous when I first arrived at UMKC, but the faculty here have been very supportive and understanding.” — Puja Adhikari, MS in Physics 2015; PhD in Physics and Chemistry expected 2019

Puja is working on cutting-edge areas of materials physics research in the lab of Curators’ Prof. Wai-Yim Ching. Her focus is on computing the electronic structure properties of complex materials such as macro-biomolecules, glasses, clay minerals, pyrophosphates, etc.

Observational

The astronomers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy conduct observational extragalactic astronomy research that focuses on the formation and evolution of structure on the largest scales. They and their students use the following data surveys, observational facilities, and imaging tools to conduct their research.

On-Site

Through the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy, the faculty maintain a diverse collection of on-site research equipment. The following facilities, tool-sets, and analyses capabilities are available for cost recharge or collaborative use with the UMKC Physics and Astronomy research groups:

Characterization
Type Method Tool(s) Dependencies Point of Contact
Electronic
Structure
X-ray Photoemission Kratos Axis HS T, θ Caruso
Electronic
Structure
Spin Resolved ARPES Scienta R4000 T, θ Caruso
Vibrational
Structure
FTIR T, Pressure Caruso
Vibrational
Structure
Raman T, Pressure Caruso
Physical
Structure
Atomic Force Microscopy Zhu
Optical
Properties
Ellipsometry Woolam xxx Caruso
Optical
Properties
Photoluminescence T Caruso
Electrical
Carrier
IV/CV Caruso
Electrical
Carrier
DC Hall Caruso
Magnetic
Structure
VSM QD-PPMS T,v Caruso
γ,n Detector
Properties
Pulse Height
and MCA
252-Cf and Gamma Caruso
Computational
Type Method Tool(s) Dependencies Point of Contact
Electronic
Structure
DFT OLCAO, VASP Ching
Rulis
Semiconductor
Modeling
TCAD FLOOXS Rulis
Physical
Structure
MD – Monte Carlo LAMMPS, HRMC Ching
Rulis
Nuclear Particle
Transport
Monte Carlo MCNP Caruso
Materials Growth
Type Method Tool(s) Dependencies Point of Contact
Thin
Film
RF/DC Magnetron
Sputtering
Lesker xxx gun T, Power
Pressure
Caruso
Thin
Film
PECVD Homebuilt T, Power
Pressure
Caruso
Bulk Laser Heated
Diamond Cell
Homebuilt Caruso

Physics Graduate Student Excels: Kameswara Mantha is a researcher, mentor, scientist extraordinaire

Kameswara ManthaExceptional is just one word to describe Kameswara Mantha, doctoral student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Physics and Astronomy.

He is one of five individuals who are vying to be the first physics doctoral graduate at UMKC specializing in astrophysics. He’s making a name for himself through his dedication to physics research, scholarship and mentorship.

Pure determination and talent brought Mantha to where he is. While physics is Mantha’s passion, the path to a career in the field hasn’t been easy. Owing to the very limited opportunities to pursue physics degrees in his native India, Mantha earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering instead. In order to apply for graduate schools, “I self-taught to take the physics GRE,” Mantha said, and applied to top graduate schools in the United States. However, he was denied admissions by several institutes due to a lack of the right undergraduate degree.

So, armed with an engineering degree, Mantha joined the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering as a master’s student in August 2014. One day before the scheduled UMKC engineering student orientation, he learned about the UMKC Physics and Astronomy program, which stoked his hopes to pursue astrophysics. In a desperate search for an opportunity, Mantha pondered, “I’m going to try one last time” before approaching Professor Daniel McIntosh in the UMKC Physics and Astronomy Department.

Continue reading

Research

Overview:

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is a center for advanced research on condensed matter physics and galaxy evolution. Each of the research groups in our department maintains an active presence in the published literature, participates in national and international scientific conferences, operates in part or in whole through external funding, and strives for excellence in scientific inquiry and dissemination.

Undergraduate Students:

You are encouraged to inquire about participating in undergraduate research either for credit through a 499 course, as an outgrowth of a class project, or simply for the experience. In some cases undergraduate researchers will be eligible for paid summer internships.

Graduate Students:

For thesis / dissertation research you will be able to select from among a collection of programs that span the major areas of scientific investigation including experimental, observational, theoretical, and simulational physics.

Colleagues:

The faculty-led research groups are always interested in pursuing prospects for productive collaboration or making departmental resources available for scientific research. Please feel free to contact any of the research leads for your inquiries.

Resources

The faculty of the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy actively pursue a variety of independent scientific research activities. The department maintains a wide array of on-site resources and advanced instrumentation for conducting research and for third party use. Additionally, many of the faculty research activities demand the use of substantially more powerful instruments than can be maintained (or fully utilized) by any single department or university. These observational, computational, and experimental shared resources are nationally and internationally funded state-of-the art instruments and facilities to which members of the faculty have been awarded specific use allocations through competitive grants.

Fabrication Shop:

For questions regarding the fabrication shop, please contact:
Steve Siegel
Email: siegelsf@umkc.edu
Office: (816) 235-1687
Fax: (816) 235-5221

Fabrication Shop Forms:

Work Request
Hold Harmless

Society of Physics Students

The UMKC chapter of the Society of Physics Students is a student-organized group whose main goal is to cultivate excitement and knowledge of physics in the students of the university. We hold biweekly meetings during the semester where the members construct fun gadgets, gizmos, and assorted fun physics demonstration projects (such as the Joule Thief pictured here) in our own SPS workshop. Periodically we design and build large scale projects such as a Rubin’s Tube, an electromagnetic can crusher, or a ping-pong ball cannon. Other times we will plan and execute field trips to sites of physics interest such as the Missouri University Research Reactor. We also host regional conferences, help students link up with faculty for research projects, and host an annual picnic every spring that all are welcome to attend. Membership is free and open to all students of the university who have an interest in science!

As a note: SPS members are eligible to use the workshop for their own projects after first coordinating with either the SPS president, the department’s machinist, or the department chair.

Student Opportunities

The UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy maintains a wide range of academic, intellectual, and social organizations and partnerships. As an undergraduate or graduate student at UMKC you are welcome to participate in any of our activities regardless of whether you are a physics student or not. Example student opportunities include:

  • Society of Physics Students: Any undergraduate student at UMKC with an interest in physics is welcome to attend the biweekly meetings that usually include a make-and-take project and free pizza.

  • Astro-Hour: Any student at UMKC with an interest in astronomy is welcome to attend the weekly meetings that discuss recent astronomical events and the latest discoveries.

  • Colloquia: Anyone that would like to learn about the latest research activities of the friends and collaborators of our faculty is welcome to attend these biweekly presentations.

  • Public Observatory: Anyone that is interested in viewing bright night-sky objects is welcome to visit Warkoczewski public observatory (when it is open).

UMKC Galaxy Evolution Group Assists with Planned Observations with Next Great Space Observatory

UMKC Galaxy Evolution GroupThe James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2020. It is expected to make history as the largest astronomical observatory ever sent into space, and University of Missouri-Kansas City scientists and students will be among those getting the earliest access to it. Continue reading

Undergraduate Information

We offer you a full suite of degree options:
  • Bachelor of Science in Physics: Our department’s flagship program is rigorous but customizable for your particular interests.

  • Bachelor of Science in Physics with an Astronomy Emphasis: The most popular modification to the standard physics B.S. degree. The Astronomy Emphasis designation will appear on your transcript.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Physics: Our department’s most flexible degree option is designed to ensure that you will find the right plan of study for your interests.

  • Double Major: We will help you distinguish yourself and improve your position in applications to prestigious graduate schools, leading professional programs, or career-track openings in government and industry.

  • Double Degree: We’ve teamed up with the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering to create a well-structured path for you to obtain two independent B.S. degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering in only five years.

  • Physics or Astronomy Minor: You may not realize it, but after completing our two-semester introductory physics series of courses you are already about halfway toward getting a Physics or Astronomy Minor onto your transcript!

  • Easy integration with minors from other departments: The B.S. and B.A. degrees in Physics are designed to be flexible enough for you to accommodate the minor requirements of virtually any other department that offers one.

With a bachelor's degree in Physics you will:
  • Have a functional understanding of the fundamental theoretical and experimental methods of physics and astronomy.

  • Possess well rounded experience with the vital areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

  • Know how to think critically and analytically.

  • Be able to integrate your knowledge, experience, and thinking skills to solve new and challenging problems in your chosen career field.

If you participate in undergraduate research you will:
  • Be able to communicate effectively with technical and nontechnical audiences with clear and articulate oral or written discourse.

  • Understand how to make effective use of diverse information resources such as published scientific literature, technical databases, and other forms of authoritative internet-based content.

Graduates with physics degrees generally find that:
  • The rigorous training they receive in a physics program helps their career advancement regardless of whether or not their chosen career field is science and technology related.

  • Their broad exposure to different areas of science is beneficial if they take on leadership positions in organizations with diverse science and engineering components.

Admissions Criteria:
Course Offerings:
  • Theory and Simulation: General scientific interest, rigorous survey, technical foundation, and advanced theory classes that cover the full spectrum of physical phenomena and their mathematical models.

  • Laboratory and Experiment: Introductory, computer interfacing, electronics, and advanced laboratory classes that cover a wide range of practical skills.

  • Astronomy: General scientific interest and technical classes that cover astronomical entities from stars to galaxies to the cosmos as a whole along with the methods used to observe them.

  • Read our catalog pages for details.

Undergraduate Research

If you are excited by the idea of participating in state-of-the-art research as part of your undergraduate experience, then you will want to explore the range of research opportunities that we offer.

Research in a Faculty Lab:

Students from high school through graduate school are an integral part of the operation of our faculty research labs. Engaging with faculty and other students in a research project is a challenging, absorbing, and powerful experience. The path from the classroom to the laboratory is unique for every individual, but most of the time if you are interested in performing research in a faculty lab then simply speaking with that faculty member will be the best way to get an idea about what route would be the best for you.

Undergraduate Research 499 Courses:

The Undergraduate Research (Physics 499) course is a way for students to perform research in a faculty research lab for credit. Enrollment requires consent of the faculty member. Some of the faculty do not require that a student enroll in 499 to be eligible to participate in research in his/her lab. On the other hand, some of the faculty research groups have created a special 499 Undergraduate Research course specifically to serve as a vehicle for students to get exposure to the research activities that are going on within that group and to learn technical skills that would be needed in the lab.

UMKC SEARCH Program:

The UMKC SEARCH program for Students Engaged in ARts and researCH is a competitive program whereby a student or group of students can apply for up to $1,250 to pursue an independent research activity under the mentorship of a faculty member. Applications are due early in the fall semester, the research is conducted throughout the academic year, and the results are presented in a campus-wide symposium of undergraduate research. The funds can be used to purchase research supplies, support travel to a conference where the results are to be presented, print posters, and support travel to sites were data will be taken or where a study will be conducted. Many students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have used SEARCH to launch or sustain their undergraduate research activities.

UMKC SUROP Program:

The UMKC SUROP program for SUmmer Research OPportunities is a competitive program whereby a student or group of students can apply for up to $1,250 to pursue an independent research activity under the mentorship of a faculty member. Applications are due in the middle of the spring semester (usually early March), the research is conducted throughout the summer, and the results are presented in August at a symposium of SUROP recipients. The funds can be used to purchase research supplies, print posters, and support travel to sites were data will be taken or where a study will be conducted. Funds cannot be used to support travel to a conference. In addition to the research funds, SUROP students are also provided with a $2,500 stipend. Many students from the Department of Physics and astronomy have used SUROP to launch or sustain their undergraduate research activities.

UMKC EUReka Courses:

The UMKC EUReka program for Experiences in Undergraduate Research is a University of Missouri strategic initiative that is designed to support the integration of faculty research into introductory level (100, 200) courses. Taking classes with a EUReka attribute in Pathway will help you evaluate your interest in conducting independent research.

Undergraduate Research

If you are excited by the idea of participating in state-of-the-art research as part of your undergraduate experience, then you will want to explore the range of research opportunities that we offer.

Research in a Faculty Lab:

Students from high school through graduate school are an integral part of the operation of our faculty research labs. Engaging with faculty and other students in a research project is a challenging, absorbing, and powerful experience. The path from the classroom to the laboratory is unique for every individual, but most of the time if you are interested in performing research in a faculty lab then simply speaking with that faculty member will be the best way to get an idea about what route would be the best for you.

Undergraduate Research 499 Courses:

The Undergraduate Research (Physics 499) course is a way for students to perform research in a faculty research lab for credit. Enrollment requires consent of the faculty member. Some of the faculty do not require that a student enroll in 499 to be eligible to participate in research in his/her lab. On the other hand, some of the faculty research groups have created a special 499 Undergraduate Research course specifically to serve as a vehicle for students to get exposure to the research activities that are going on within that group and to learn technical skills that would be needed in the lab.

UMKC SEARCH Program:

The UMKC SEARCH program for Students Engaged in ARts and researCH is a competitive program whereby a student or group of students can apply for up to $1,250 to pursue an independent research activity under the mentorship of a faculty member. Applications are due early in the fall semester, the research is conducted throughout the academic year, and the results are presented in a campus-wide symposium of undergraduate research. The funds can be used to purchase research supplies, support travel to a conference where the results are to be presented, print posters, and support travel to sites were data will be taken or where a study will be conducted. Many students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have used SEARCH to launch or sustain their undergraduate research activities.

UMKC SUROP Program:

The UMKC SUROP program for SUmmer Research OPportunities is a competitive program whereby a student or group of students can apply for up to $1,250 to pursue an independent research activity under the mentorship of a faculty member. Applications are due in the middle of the spring semester (usually early March), the research is conducted throughout the summer, and the results are presented in August at a symposium of SUROP recipients. The funds can be used to purchase research supplies, print posters, and support travel to sites were data will be taken or where a study will be conducted. Funds cannot be used to support travel to a conference. In addition to the research funds, SUROP students are also provided with a $2,500 stipend. Many students from the Department of Physics and astronomy have used SUROP to launch or sustain their undergraduate research activities.

UMKC EUReka Courses:

The UMKC EUReka program for Experiences in Undergraduate Research is a University of Missouri strategic initiative that is designed to support the integration of faculty research into introductory level (100, 200) courses. Taking classes with a EUReka attribute in Pathway will help you evaluate your interest in conducting independent research.

Warko Observatory

Check the Warkoczewski Homepage or the Warko Twitter Feed for open/closed status, current news, and other updates.

The Warkoczewski Observatory (affectionately called the “Warko” (pronounced “Varko”)) is located on the roof of Royall Hall and it is open on most clear Friday evenings from May 1st until October 31st starting at dusk. Viewing options typically include the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, bright star clusters, double stars, and (under good conditions) nebulae and galaxies. Admission is free! You may want to bring warm clothing for early spring and late fall nights.

The largest telescope is a 16 3/8-inch, hand-made (by Stan Warkoczewski), Newtonian reflector and it is operated by the Astronomical Society of Kansas City (ASKC) for the university. Our newest additional telescopes are a 14-inch Meade LX200 computerized, Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector plus a Meade Coronado solar telescope mounted piggy-back. (Made possible by generous gifts from the A&S Alumni Association and the ASKC.)

Free parking is available in the parking garage just south of Royall Hall (during the open hours of the observatory only). Access to the rooftop observatory is through the stairway located just inside the double doors on the east side of Royall Hall, immediately opposite of Haag Hall.

Why Study Astronomy?

A quote from the web site of the American Astronomical Society sums it up best, “… astronomers must apply equal measures of analytic thinking and imagination, logic and intuition, to answer the most fundamental questions about the cosmos …”.

Career EmploymentGraduate/Professional SchoolThe Cool Factor
Student at Control Room

As an astronomer, your diverse set of skills will give you the edge you need when seeking career employment. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) collects excellent statistics with many detailed focus articles about the impact that an astronomy degree will have on you in terms of post-graduation employment status and starting salary. The AIP also provides a succinct representative illustration of the variety of employment sectors and career options that are available to an astronomy student. Beyond the AIP statistics and illustrations, the American Astronomical Society has made its own presentation about the career implications of an astronomy degree including example career profiles and why you should study astronomy to achieve your life goals.

Astronomy is a fundamental science because it has applicability to a wide range of length scales and because it is, at its core, about how things work. Astronomy is concerned with the chemical composition and physical properties of the universe from subatomic particles and the nucleosynthesis of atoms to the cosmic web of galaxies and dark matter. Thus, virtually any field of science can be touched directly from the backgroud that an astronomer has. Further, whether in observational astronomy or theoretical astrophysics, astronomers gain significant computer programming experience to deal with big data. Astronomers often find that they can take on a variety of roles relatively easily and thus they can communicate and coordinate activities that cross the traditional boundaries within and between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When you train as an astronomer, you develop a highly optimized combination of broad and deep knowledge that will let you take advantage of whatever opportunity life brings your way.

Prof. McIntosh and Student

An astronomer’s broad range of knowledge and intuition will give you the edge you need when applying for graduate or professional school. The American Institute of Physics collects excellent statistics with many detailed focus articles about student prospects for entering graduate school or professional school in terms of likely opportunities for support as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or through scholarships/fellowships, top ranked LSAT/MCAT exam scores, strong likelihood to actually follow through and pursue graduate/professional study, etc. While these statistics are not broken down to include astronomers explicitly, the impact that an undergraduate degree that incorporates astronomy can have on your prospects should be understood to be in line with that of a physics degree because of the similar emphasis on critical thinking, applied mathematics, and technological literacy.

Although astronomy majors are comparatively successful in achieving acceptance to graduate/professional schools, there is one further critical consideration that is not often mentioned by most academic advisors because of its “Tough Love” realism. That is: “What is your plan if your first plan doesn’t work out the way you think it will?”

With a physics degree that incorporates astronomy in hand your prospects are both strong and diverse. Astronomers investigate the chemical composition of stars, galaxies and interstellar gas bringing together knowledge from atomic and nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and chemistry. Astronomers study mechanics, thermodynamics and electromagnetism, which provide direct links to civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. Astronomers also employ model building and computer simulation methods, giving them the capabilities of mathematicians and computer scientists. What happens if your original professional school goal is diverted or needs to be delayed? You can count on the solid foundation of astronomy skills to provide you with diverse career opportunities in intellectually simulating environments where you can solve problems that will make our world into a better place.

Student at Telescope Site

Astronomy is about our place in the universe. Why are we here and where did we come from? Astronomy is also about the history of the universe. When did it begin, how did it happen, and how will it end (if it will end at all)?

Between these weighty questions there are a million little curiosities that are begging for answers: What are stars, planets, and galaxies? How did they evolve? Why does the night sky look the way it does? Does life exist among the stars? Is it intelligent life? How big is the Universe? What is its true structure?

As a student of Astronomy you will have the opportunity to learn about the answers that have been uncovered so far and where our boundaries of understanding are currently set. With persistence and dedication you will also learn to pose your own rational questions and then work toward their solutions to advance our understanding of the cosmos.

Why Study Physics?

A quote from the web site of the American Physical Society sums it up best, “Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science.”

Career EmploymentGraduate/Professional SchoolCool Factor
CareerWheel

The diverse skills that you would acquire as a physicist will give you the edge you need when seeking career employment. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) collects excellent statistics with many detailed articles about the impact that a physics degree will have on you in terms of post-graduation employment status, starting salary, field and sector of employment, etc. and they also include a great (but far from exhaustive) list of companies that hire physicists broken down by US state. The “Career Wheel” image (from the AIP) illustrates a representative list of the variety of employment sectors and career options that are available to a physicist. Beyond the statistics collected by the AIP, the American Physical Society (APS) has assembled its own presentation about the career implications of a physics degree and why you should study physics to achieve your life goals.

It is sufficient to say that because physics is a fundamental science with applicability to a wide range of length scales, virtually any field of science can be touched directly from the background that a physicist has. Physicists often find that they can take on a variety of roles relatively easily and thus they can communicate and coordinate activities that cross the traditional boundaries within and between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When you train as a physicist, you develop a highly optimized combination of broad and deep knowledge that will let you take advantage of whatever opportunity life brings your way.

Mahbube with an XPS

A physicist’s broad range of knowledge and intuition will give you the edge you need when applying for graduate or professional school. The American Institute of Physics collects excellent statistics with many detailed focus articles about the impact that an undergraduate physics degree can have on your prospects for entering graduate school or professional school in terms of likely opportunities for support as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or through scholarships/fellowships, top ranked LSAT/MCAT exam scores, strong likelihood to actually follow through and pursue graduate/professional study, etc.

Although physics majors are comparatively successful in achieving acceptance to graduate/professional schools, there is one further critical consideration that is not often mentioned by most academic advisors because of its “Tough Love” realism. That is: “What is your plan if your first plan doesn’t work out the way you think it will?

With a physics bachelors degree in hand your prospects are both strong and diverse. Physicists study the quantum mechanics of atoms, molecules, and solids bringing together knowledge from chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering. Physicists study mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism, to engage in biology and civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Physicists also study model building and model simulating methods to have the capabilities of a mathematician or computer scientist. What happens if your original professional school goal is diverted or needs to be delayed? You can count on the solid foundation of a physics degree to provide you with diverse career opportunities in intellectually simulating environments where you can solve problems that will make our world into a better place.

RF Magnetron Sputtering

Physics covers it all: from the biggest to smallest, from the hottest to the coldest, from the fastest to the slowest, from the simplest to the most complex, and everything in between.

Physicists have a well developed intuition for “how things work” that allows them to be real-world problem solvers. When you are the one that can get things done on a regular basis, you will become the one to tackle all of the most interesting and challenging problems. This is what turns a job into a career and a career into a lifelong passion. Whether you are looking for public accolades or perhaps just want to wow yourself with some new insight, a physics degree will put you in a position to play with the biggest toys, try the trickiest puzzles, lead the best team, and make your mark on the world.