Welcome to BU Physics

Karl Ludwig, Department Chair

The mission of the Physics Department at Boston University is to provide excellence in teaching physics and advancement of knowledge through research and scholarship in service to the University and to society at large.

In teaching, we seek to attain a level and quality of physics course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level that supports the breadth and depth of modern physics curricula and fosters growth in new interdisciplinary areas. The current educational mission is fulfilled through: (1) introductory courses for science and engineering majors; (2) upper-level undergraduate courses (and opportunities for undergraduate research participation) for majors in physics and related fields; (3) core and advanced-level courses as well as challenging research opportunities for physics graduate students; (4) distinctive courses for non-scientists both through the Core Curriculum and several departmental and interdepartmental offerings; and (5) outreach programs such as the pairing of physics graduate students with physics teachers and their classes in local high schools, as well as teaching MET and SED courses that enable local teachers to qualify to teach physics at the challenging, conceptual “physics first” level, about the 9th grade.

In research, our mission is to advance fundamental scientific explorations as well as applications of the related technologies. We seek both external prominence and internal cohesiveness of departmental research clusters in key areas of physics that have been identified as important and challenging, while gaining the flexibility to exploit unforeseen breakthroughs that will open new fields.

Our program has strengths in experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, elementary particle physics and biological physics. We are also heavily involved in interdisciplinary research programs with the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Departments, as well as with the Photonics Center, specifically in quantum optics and hard and soft materials research. In elementary particle experiment, we host major experimental efforts with the DØ experiment at Fermilab, the Super-K neutrino experiment in Kamioka, Japan, two major detector efforts at the LHC at CERN, and the MuLan experiment at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. In elementary particle theory, our students are engaged in understanding the origin of the masses of the elementary particles and the signatures of physics beyond the Standard Model.

We have been steadily growing over the past 15 years and now have a faculty of 38 within the department, plus 18 faculty from affiliated departments with joint appointments in Physics, and about 30 visiting researchers and postdoctoral fellows in residence. Physics at Boston University provides a stimulating environment for our approximately 100 undergraduate and 120 graduate students. Our research productivity is high, as we rank in the top 10 in private universities in statistical measures of the number of refereed papers, the number of citations per year, and critically, the number of citations per paper. In the latest US News and World Report rankings Physics ranked 36th, among the highest of all science and engineering departments at BU.

The Physics Department hosts state-of-the-art infrastructure for the University, including a variety of supercomputers in the Center for Computational Science, the Electronics Design Facility, and the very well-equipped Scientific Instrument Facility. Our faculty also direct the Polymer Center and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology.