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Course Recommendations By Research Specialty

 

  

Astronomy and High-Energy Astrophysics
A wide variety of research topics are available within these two groups. Hence, the best courses for each student will vary on a case by case basis, taking into account the background of the student and the recommendations of the adviser. In many astronomy departments it is not unusual for students to take as many as 12 graduate courses in physics and astronomy.

Core courses required for all research in astrophysics are
 ASTR 451 Sun and Stars and
 ASTR 452 Galaxies and Cosmology.

Most research projects require
 PHYS 541 Radiative Processes.

Students must participate in the AU, a weekly astronomy seminar given by faculty, students, and outside speakers in order to gain experience presenting talks.

In addition, students typically take several of the following
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I
 ASTR 542 Nebular Astrophysics
 ASTR 555 Protostars and Planets
 ASTR 565 Compact Objects
 PHYS 580 Introduction to Plasmas
 PHYS 561 General Relativity
 ASTR 600 Special Topics
 ASTR 570 Solar System Physics.

Other useful courses include PHYS 522 (Quantum Mechanics II), PHYS 526 (Statistical Physics), PHYS 532 (E&M), and PHYS 515 (Classical Dynamics) for theorists. Useful courses for observers and experimentalists include ASTR 450 (Experimental Space Science) and ASTR 554 (Astrophysics of the Sun). Students who want to specialize in numerical simulations will probably want to take PHYS 516 (Mathematical Methods) and advanced computation courses in the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department.

  

Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics

AMO physics studies simple systems that reveal the behavior of matter and light at a fundamental level. While the phenomena can be complex, physical intuition stems from a strong grounding in the classical areas. Further study introduces students to the terminology, concepts, and techniques of the field. The department currently only has experimental AMO research groups, so a strong emphasis is placed on practical learning.

The core courses required for research in AMO physics are
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I
 PHYS 526 Statistical Physics
 PHYS 532 Classical Electrodynamics
 PHYS 515 Classical Dynamics

Students also typically take
 PHYS 522 Quantum Mechanics II
 PHYS 571 Modern Atomic Physics
 PHYS 572 Fundamentals of Quantum Optics

Other valuable courses are
 PHYS 537/538 Methods of Experimental Physics I and II
 PHYS 516 Mathematical Methods
 PHYS 600 Advanced Topics in Physics: Cold Atoms in Atomic Physics
 CHEM 630 Molecular Spectroscopy and Group Theory

During the first year, interested students are encouraged to discuss course selection with professors doing research in AMO physics.


Biophysics

Biophysicists study the physical principles underlying the complex processes of living systems at all levels.Experimental and theoretical approaches to biophysical research require a strong background in fundamental physics.Due to the highly multidisciplinary nature of biophysics, additional coursework is determined by the area of specialization.Current research in the department focuses on molecular biophysics.

The core courses required for Biophysics are
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I
 PHYS 526 Statistical Physics
 PHYS 532 Classical Electrodynamics
 PHYS 515 Classical Dynamics

Students also typically take
 PHYS 522 Quantum Mechanics II
 PHYS 563 Solid State I

Other valuable courses are
 PHYS 537/538 Methods of Experimental Physics I and II
 PHYS 533/534 Nanostructures and Nanotechnology I and II
 PHYS 600 Advanced Topics in Physics: Molecular Biophysics
 PHYS 610 Bilogical and Molecular Simulation

During the first year, interested students are encouraged to discuss course selection with professors doing research in Biophysics.


Condensed Matter and Nanoscale Physics

Condensed matter physics concerns systems with many degrees of freedom (e.g. metals) where many-body phenomena play an important role (e.g. superconductivity, magnetism).Nanoscale physics examines the evolution of these properties as the system size approaches the atomic scale. Graduate level proficiency in the fundamental concepts is an essential prerequisite, while further coursework focuses on specific phenomena and techniques of the field.The department sponsors both theoretical and experimental research in these areas.

The core courses required for research in CM and nanoscale physics are
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I
 PHYS 526 Statistical Physics
 PHYS 532 Classical Electrodynamics
 PHYS 515 Classical Dynamics

Most students also take
 PHYS 563 Solid State I
 PHYS 564 Solid State II

Courses with an emphasis on theory include
 PHYS 663 Condensed Matter Theory:Applications
 PHYS 664 Condensed Matter Theory:Many-body Formalism

Other valuable courses are
 PHYS 533/534 Nanostructures and Nanotechnology I and II
 PHYS 539 Characterization and Fabrication at the nm Scale
 PHYS 566 Surface Physics
 PHYS 600 Advanced Topics in Physics: Nanoscale Science and Technology
 PHYS 516 Mathematical Methods
 PHYS 537/538 Methods of Experimental Physics I and II


During the first year, interested students are encouraged to discuss course selection with professors doing research in CM and nanoscale physics.


Particle Physics

The basic courses required for research in particle physics are:
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I
 PHYS 522 Quantum Mechanics II
 PHYS 532 Classical Electrodynamics
 PHYS 542 Introduction to Elementary Particle Physics
 PHYS 543 Quarks and Leptons

and one of
 PHYS 515 Classical Dynamics
 PHYS 516 Mathematical Methods

Depending on their interests, most students are also advised to take some of the following:
 PHYS 526 Statistical Physics
 PHYS 544 Special Topics in Nuclear and Particle Physics
 PHYS 561 General Relativity
 PHYS 622 Quantum Field Theory


Space Physics

Courses from the basic group that are essential to space plasma physics:
 ASTR 570 Solar System Physics
 PHYS 580 Introduction to Plasma Physics
 PHYS 532 Classical Electrodynamics

Additional courses from the basic group that most space physics faculty advise their students to take:
 ASTR 451 Sun and Stars
 PHYS 521 Quantum Mechanics I

Relevant Math Courses:
PHYS 516 (Mathematical Methods) deals mostly with the classic theoretical methods of physics and is recommended for people who wish to use a lot of analytic theory in their research or who need some brushing up in that type of work. People who wish to do computer simulations in their research should take PHYS 416 (Computational Physics) and may wish to take a course in numerical methods or programming from another department. Possibilities include CAAM 420 (High-level languages), CAAM 421 (Vector and parallel computing), MECH 525 (Parallel computing), and MECH 676 (Finite difference methods).

Some advanced courses in space plasma physics are offered every two or three years. A graduate student specializing in space plasma physics will probably be advised to take some of these courses, depending on the situation.
 PHYS 510 Magnetospheric Physics
 PHYS 512 Ionospheric Physics
 PHYS 519 Plasma Kinetic Theory
 PHYS 520 Nonlinear Plasma Dynamics
 ASTR 554 Astrophysics of the Sun