Physics is that branch of science which seeks to ascertain the fundamental laws of nature and apply them towards understanding the physical world in quantitative detail.

Ellyne Kutschera primes a sonoluminescence chamber.

Some students go on to graduate school in physics, others work in industry. Most of the student in the class of 2005 (some shown right) did 2 years or more of undergraduate research to help them find their way to science careers (see "the shearing of Eric Fitzgerald" to get an idea of the seriousness of graduate school).


Eric Fitzgerald and Laura Melling have gone on to graduate school at MIT and UC Santa Barbara

optical tweezers

Jordan Crist using optical tweezers in Prof. Parthasarthy's biophysics lab.

... and, of course, you learn to use really cool equipment for undergraduate research.

Jordan Crist, a senior graduating this year has spent the last two years working in the Parthasarthy Bio-Physics Lab.

Jordan has been able to do hands-on work involving many new and exciting techniques while gaining valuable research experience. These activities include using interferometry to optically resolve nanometer scale height differences of thin films as well as being part of the team that found a new property of Tuberculosis membranes.

American Institute of Physics surveys find that holders of physics degrees can expect a $6-10K annual salary increase over non-technical degree holders.

Ptacec and HEP rack

part of the High Energy Physics lab where better detectors are developed.


Physics as a description of our natural world–

Learn the underlying and unifying principles that explain interesting phenomenon and processes. Answer the question "how do things work?"

Wide-ranging areas of research–

Example: in quantum physics courses students apply the principles of quantum mechanics to subjects as diverse as atoms in lasers and nuclei undergoing fusion in the Sun.


And careers entailing:


This vigorous research activity provides opportunities for undergraduates to learn physics by working in a lab or on a project. See this page for examples.


The Undergraduate Physics Program


Special Programs


Faculty Research Interests

astronomy and astrophysics quantum optics
atomic and molecular physics solid state physics
biophysics, chemical physics statistical mechanics
condensed matter theory superfluid mechanics
elementary particle physics areas of applied physics (e.g., solar energy, geophysics)
physics education research

Interdisciplinary Research Institutes

Institute of Molecular Biology Institute of Theoretical Science
Oregon Center for High Energy Physics Oregon Center for Optics
Materials Science Institute Computational Science Institute