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 remote 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 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.
Six Physics 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.
The Department of Mathematics is proud of its excellent teaching and active research programs. Several of our faculty members have received awards for excellence in teaching. Faculty members are currently involved in research in areas such as mathematical analysis, abstract algebra, number theory, geometry, topology, and applied mathematics. Each year approximately one third of the faculty hold external research grants, from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency and the Department of Defense.
Work settings include:
People with degrees in physics typically pursue careers in teaching or research, or some combination of the two. Teaching can be at the high school, community college, college, or university level. University teachers generally also engage in research. People who pursue a non-teaching research career generally work in industries such as the computer chip industry, or work in government labs such as Argonne or Brookhaven.
Approximately 75% of our students go on to graduate school, mostly in physics, but a significant number go into other areas such as law, business, medicine, biophysics, and medical physics. Our students regularly get into outstanding graduate schools such as Princeton, Cornell, University of Chicago, MIT, and UB.