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.
Any visitor to the 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.
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 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.
Please visit the Physics department website for additional information about our faculty.