Jan 23, 2019  
USC Catalogue 2017-2018 
USC Catalogue 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics and Astronomy

Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers the Bachelor of Science in Physics, Bachelor of Science in Astronomy, Bachelor of Science in Physics/Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts in Physics, Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy, Bachelor of Science in Biophysics, Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences, a minor in physics or astronomy, Master of Science in Physics, Master of Arts in Physics and Doctor of Philosophy in Physics.

Ahmanson Center for Biological Research (ACB) 439
Main: (213) 740-0848; Undergraduate: (213) 740-1140; Graduate: (213) 740-8685
FAX: (213) 740-6653
Email: physics@dornsife.usc.edu

Chair: Stephan Haas, PhD


Anna H. Bing Dean's Chair in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Professor of Physics and Astronomy: Amber Miller, PhD

University Professor and Provost Emeritus and Professor of Physics and Education: Lloyd Armstrong, Jr.

Presidential Professor of Physics and Medicine: Murray Gell-Mann, PhD

William M. Keck Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics and Astronomy: P. Daniel Dapkus, PhD (Electrical Engineering)

University Professor, George T. Pfleger Chair in Electrical Engineering, and Professor of Physics: Robert W. Hellwarth, PhD (Electrical Engineering)

Kenneth T. Norris Professor of Engineering Professor of Chemical Engineering and Material Science, Physics and Biomedical Engineering: Anupam Madhukar, PhD (Material Science)

Professors: Itzhak Bars, PhD; Gerd Bergmann, PhD; N. Eugene Bickers, PhD*; Hans M. Bozler, PhD; Werner Däppen, PhD*; Jack Feinberg, PhD*; Christopher M. Gould, PhD*; Martin A. Gundersen, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Stephan Haas, PhD*; Clifford Johnson, PhD*; Rajiv Kalia, PhD; Vitaly Kresin, PhD; Joseph Kunc, PhD (Aerospace Engineering); Anthony J. Levi, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Daniel Lidar, PhD (Chemical Engineering); Jia Grace Lu, PhD;Aiichiro Nakano, PhD (Computer Science); Dennis Nemeschansky, PhD; Elena Pierpaoli, PhD; Krzysztof Pilch, PhD; Edward J. Rhodes, Jr., PhD*; Hubert Saleur, PhD; Robin Shakeshaft, PhD; Armand Tanguay, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Priya Vashishta, PhD (Materials Science); Andrey Vilesov, PhD (Chemistry); William G. Wagner, PhD; Nicholas P. Warner, PhD*; Paolo Zanardi, PhD

Associate Professors: Stephen Cronin, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Mohamed El-Naggar, PhD*; Michelle Povinelli, PhD (Electrical Engineering)

Assistant Professors: James Boedicker, PhD; Christoph A. Haselwandter, PhD; Fabien Pinaud, PhD (Biological Sciences); Remo Rohs, PhD (Biological Sciences); Susumu Takahashi, PhD (Chemistry)

Professors (Research): Leonid Didkovsky, PhD; Geraldine J. Peters, PhD

Associate Professor (Research): Rosa Di Felice, PhD

Assistant Professors (Research): Lorenzo Campos Venuti, PhD; Loris Colombo, PhD

Assistant Professor (Teaching): Vahe Peroomian, PhD

Lecturer: Scott Macdonald, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Practice: Kenneth Phillips, PhD

Emeritus Professors: Robert K. Cole, PhD; Melvin A. Daybell, PhD; Tu-Nan Chang, PhD

Emeritus Professor (Research): Chung-Yung (Robert) Wu, PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.


Undergraduate Degrees

Grade Point Average in Major Subject

A GPA of C (2.0) or higher is required in all upper-division courses taken in the department for all of the above major degree programs. A grade of C (2.0) or higher is required in all courses in the department specifically listed as subject requirements.


Advisement is required for all BS and BA degree candidates in the department. Students should meet with their departmental academic adviser at least once a semester to review the direction of their academic programs. Students who have not met with an adviser should contact the director of undergraduate affairs. Students are also encouraged to seek the advisement of faculty members whose specializations are appropriate to their intended field of graduate study.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students are encouraged to become familiar with the research programs of the faculty in the department. Students who intend to pursue a PhD and a career in research in physics or astronomy following graduation are strongly encouraged to become involved directly in one of the research programs, whether as summer research assistants or as part-time laboratory assistants during the academic year. Specific research opportunities will depend upon individual faculty research programs.

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers graduate study at the master's and doctoral degree levels. The graduate program prepares students for professional careers in research, teaching and developmental applications of physics.

Entering students spend time in intensive course work providing a broad background in advanced physics regardless of degree objective. Subsequent study involves a mix of course work, practical training and independent research (depending on degree objective). The doctoral program affords exceptionally close collaboration between students and faculty.

Research Areas: Experimental, Theoretical and Computational

Opportunities for research are offered in atomic, molecular and optical/laser physics, astrophysics, biological physics, elementary particle theory, string theory, quantum field theory, earthquake physics, helioseismology, condensed matter physics, quantum electronics/nonlinear optics, space physics and ultralow temperature physics.

Degree Requirements

Graduate degrees in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Graduate study in physics is divided into three degree objectives:

  • Master of Science and Master of Arts in Physics
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Physics


    Bachelor's DegreeMinorMaster's DegreeDoctoral Degree