Overview

Welcome to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Below are some quick links to key information on this site.

BS Degrees: Astronomy | Physics |  Accelerated BS/MS in Physics

MS DegreesApplied & Engineering Physics | MA Energy and Sustainability Concentration

PhD DegreesPhysics

Minors:  Astronomy | Physics | Renewable Energy

Courses | Faculty Directory

We offer many exciting possibilities for studying physics and astronomy. Our faculty has a deep commitment to facilitating learning and encouraging students to engage in research at the frontiers of knowledge. You can learn all about our fascinating research activities either by going to the research section of this site or else by visiting individual faculty profiles. Please browse through these pages to see what’s new and exciting in our department!

Academics

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At the Bachelor’s level, the School offers a BS degree in Astronomy and a BS degree in Physics. Undergraduate majors in these fields receive a solid foundation in the basics, and are also taught analytical and problem-solving skills essential for success in any career path. The department also offers minors in Astronomy, Physics, and Renewable Energy.

At the graduate level, the department offers an MS in Applied & Engineering Physics, an MA in Energy and Sustainability, and a PhD in Physics. We also offer an Accelerated BS/MS in Physics.

Research

The research interests of the department’s faculty span a wide range of fields involving Astronomy, Computational Sciences, Data Sciences, and Physics. These include:

Applied Physics, Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Atmospheric Physics, Atomic Physics, Biological Physics, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Physics, Computational Solid Mechanics, Condensed Matter Physics, Data Science, Magnetospheric Physics, Mathematical Physics, Material Science, Nonlinear Dynamics, Particle and Nuclear Physics, Physical Chemistry, Planetary Science, Space Weather, and Solar Physics.

All graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to get involved in research with faculty.  Undergraduates students can learn more about research opportunities here.

Facilities

The department has a variety of computing resources including Windows-based and UNIX-based machines. The Windows machines are linked to an NT server which provides shared disk space as well as mail and printer services.

The Mason campus contains numerous open computers labs to allow graduate students to participate in computational research projects and related course activities. All of these facilities are free for use by faculty and students.

In addition, much of the research and implementation can be carried out in the computer labs of the department within the Mason College of Science, which offers a wide selection of computational platforms for research and graduate study. The largest capability machine is an SGI ICE 8200 cluster (described below). There is also an SGI Altix BX3700 shared memory system with 64 processors and 128 GB of memory, connected via high speed to 10 Terabytes of disk storage. Additional resources include an SGI Altix 3300, a Linux cluster, a Beowulf cluster, and several special purpose Linux clusters.

The SGI ICE 8200 platform has these capabilities:

  • Compute nodes: 80
  • Total cores: 640
  • Per-node processors: 2 Xeon’s quad core 2.83 GHz
  • Per-node memory: 2 GB of memory; total memory = 1,280 GB
  • Data storage: 28 TB + 36 TB scratch
  • Software: Intel compilers, gnu compilers, PBS professional (queue), Intel MPI, Intel MKL
  • OS: SLES 10

Introductory physics laboratories are equipped with computer-interfaced experiments, allowing students to obtain quantitative results while gaining experience with modern data acquisition and analysis methods.

George Mason University recently opened Research Hall. An observatory sits atop this building, which houses a large optical telescope used in teaching and research.