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Research Areas

Astronomy and Astrophysics 

AndersonBurke-Spolaor,  LorimerMcLaughlinMcWilliamsPisano

This group includes six faculty members in the department with a focus on gravitational waves, pulsars, black holes, fast radio bursts, star formation, galaxy evolution and formation, theoretical astrophysics, and the contents and dynamics of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Reflecting exciting new developments in astronomy, in 2016 WVU launched a new Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology. This includes ten research faculty across Astronomy, Mathematics, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The center's goal is to further gravitational wave astrophysics and cosmology through research in radio astronomy, receiver development, and computation. Our faculty contribute to two world-leading gravitational-wave collaborations, LIGO and NANOGrav. The proximity of the Green Bank Observatory to WVU makes it a unique resource for training students, doing outreach, and networking with other scientists.

Experimental Condensed Matter and Materials Physics


Condensed-matter physics is the study of materials in their solid state. Many of the recent major technological advances in consumer electronics are a direct result of fundamental condensed matter and materials physics research. The WVU faculty in this area synthesize different classes of materials including semiconducting, topological, and strongly correlated, and investigate their structural, electronic, and optical properties at the atomic scale.

Theoretical and Computational Condensed Matter and Materials Physics


Condensed matter theory is the study of the physical properties of condensed phases of matter, like solids and certain exotic liquids.  This is based on the laws of quantum physics, electrodynamics, and statistical mechanics.  Understanding the properties of these phases and being able to predict new materials capable of hosting them is at the core of our technological advances, from biophysics and clean energy to communication technology and quantum computation.

Optical and Laser Physics


Optics is the science of light and its interaction with matter, from single atoms and single photons, to intense laser beams and energetic plasmas. Researchers in this area use light as a probe to learn about the microscopic electromagnetic behavior of novel materials and the thermodynamics of plasmas.

Physics Education Research

MillerGay StewartJohn StewartWilliamson

The Physics Education Research group investigates the functioning of physics courses at WVU, what elements in those courses are most effective, and how to make those courses more inclusive. Current efforts focus on understanding the structure of conceptual physics knowledge and the properties of widely used conceptual physics evaluations. We also work to improve physics teacher preparation and public outreach.

Plasma and Space Physics


Plasma is called the fourth state of matter, complementing solids, liquids, and gases. Plasmas are hot enough that atoms and molecules in the plasma break apart, with electrons and positively charged ions not bound to each other.  Over 99% of the known matter in the universe is in the plasma state, and it is important to studies of fusion, solar and space physics and space weather, astrophysics, and industrial applications.

Facilities & Collaboration

The Department is supported by several in-house facilities including a machine shop and electronics shop, high-performance computational facilities for condensed matter and astrophysics and a physics cleanroom. The Department has strong collaboration with other facilities at WVU, such as the engineering fabrication and  characterization facility and the bio- and  health sciences facilities. Many of the research groups are affiliated with the  WVNano Initiativethe National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank WV, and the  DIII-D Research Program.