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 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 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 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 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 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 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.