Why study Computational Physics BS at UB?
The BS in Computational Physics combines requirements from the BS in Physics and the BS in Computer Science. It is overseen by the Department of Physics and designed for students who are interested in applying advanced computer-based techniques to physics research, or who wish to develop technical software. The program is such that students can pursue a graduate degree in either physics or computer science. It is also possible to pursue a 5–year program leading to the degree, BS in Computational Physics/MS in Physics.
This degree program, offered jointly by the Department of Physics and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, makes it possible to pursue a number of career options.
- Computational skills
- Analytical skills
- Practical problem solving and mathematical modeling skills
- Research skills
- Communication skills
The Learning Environment
Introductory courses consist of large lectures given by a faculty member and smaller recitation sections that are taught by graduate teaching assistants. The lectures introduce the material and the recitations focus on applications and problem-solving. The lectures use many demonstrations to show physics principles in live action. Almost all the introductory lectures use personal response systems, where students use clickers to respond to the instructors’ questions. The homework assignments for the introductory courses are typically submitted online. We also offer purely online introductory courses during winter session.
The introductory lab courses explore basic topics such as forces, kinematics, friction, electrostatics and electric circuits. These experiments are designed to illustrate and expand upon topics taught in the introductory lecture courses.
Our upper division courses are smaller, with around 25-35 students. We offer two upper division lab courses. In the Modern Physics Laboratory (PHY 307), students work on experiments that established modern physics in the early 20th century. In the Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHY 407 and PHY 408), students choose to work on three experiments that were developed by our faculty and use research-grade equipment.
Many of our majors, and even non-majors, complete independent study projects (PHY 498 and PHY 499) with our faculty. Our majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis (PHY 497), which allows them to graduate with honors.
About Our Facilities
Any visitor to Fronzak Hall, where the Physics Department is located, will quickly see that our department is passionate about teaching. Our building contains dozens of exhibits, ranging from a Foucault pendulum to a camera obscura, to teach physics. Most of the exhibits are interactive and were designed and built locally. The department uses the exhibits for tours and outreach to our community.
The department also has laboratory space dedicated to teaching introductory and upper-level physics. The introductory laboratory space consists of 5 classrooms, while the upper-level labs are housed in two rooms.
Students doing independent research projects may be found in any one of our many research labs working with faculty and graduate students on cutting-edge topics.
About Our Faculty
The Physics Department consists of 25 full-time faculty members and about 45 graduate teaching assistants. The faculty is comprised of approximately an equal number of theorists and experimentalists. Faculty members are involved in all most areas of physics including condensed matter physics, biophysics, high energy physics, and astrophysics/cosmology. Courses are primarily taught by full-time UB faculty members, with perhaps one or two sections per semester taught by adjunct faculty.
Six faculty members have received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, nine are Fellows of the American Physical Society, eight have won National Science Foundation Career Awards, and five are SUNY Distinguished Professors.
Faculty List Directory
Please visit the Computational Physics department website for additional information about our faculty.
With this program, a graduate can pursue a research career in the traditional areas of physics (for example, in condensed matter physics or particle physics), but with a strong emphasis on computation. Graduates can also play an important role in the development of virtual universities and the technology needed to facilitate distance learning. This degree also makes it possible to pursue employment in firms that develop scientific software, as well as computer games. Even Wall Street employers are interested in people with a background in computational physics.
Approximately 75% of our physics majors go on to graduate school, mostly in physics, but some go into areas such as law, medicine, biophysics and medical physics. Our students regularly are admitted to outstanding graduate schools such as Princeton, Cornell, University of Chicago, MIT and UB.
Students interested in a physics degree program should contact the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. John Cerne (email Dr. Cerne). Dr. Cerne will help you choose a program and advise you on course selection. He can also accept you into the program once you have completed your prerequisite courses and help with most HUB changes that you request.
Academic Advising Contact Information
Contact the advisor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Professor Atri Rudra, firstname.lastname@example.org or the advisor in the Department of Physics, Professor John Cerne, email@example.com.
Scholarships and Financial Support
Each year the Department of Physics awards up to seven scholarships to undergraduate majors pursuing one of its programs. This award is based on merit, as well as financial need.
The Department of Physics encourages and supports student applications for national scholarships and fellowships, such as offered by the Goldwater, and National Science Foundation programs. More information can be found on UB's Fellowships and Scholarships website.