TU to offer Ph.D. in physics

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The department plans to admit three to five graduate students per year to the program.

The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a doctoral program in physics, expanding the university’s academic offerings and further raising the school’s profile in the fields of math, science and engineering.

“A Ph.D. program in physics will provide a bridge with all the other programs within the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences; raise the quality and number of graduate physics applicants; and provide additional opportunities for external funding, faculty participation and collaboration,” said George P. Miller, chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics.

The department plans to admit three to five graduate students per year to the program, thereby maintaining a low student-to-faculty ratio and ensuring the personal educational experience for which TU is noted. The first Ph.D. physics students will be admitted for the fall 2011 semester, with the program being fully implemented by the fall of 2012.

TU has offered a master’s degree in physics and engineering physics for three years, and with the department’s rapidly growing reputation, the doctoral program is a natural extension to these programs. The presence of the Ph.D. program will strengthen an already strong undergraduate physics program and will allow many of our master’s students to continue to pursue their academic goals without leaving the university.

“In the past six years, we have grown our resources to a level comparable to many Ph.D.-granting departments of similar size,” Miller said. “We are particularly strong in instrumentation, optics, computational plasma physics, condensed matter theory, materials characterization, and nanotechnology.”

Jerzy Bodurka, associate professor and director of MRI Facilities at Laureate Institute for Brain Research, expressed his support for a Ph.D.-granting program at TU. “It would be an invaluable asset in assisting the technical development and research efforts under way at LIBR. It would further enhance the development of collaborative research projects between TU and LIBR and provide an opportunity for students to experience cutting-edge research in a nonacademic environment,” he said.

The program also received support from other departments, including Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Dale Teeters, Harry H. Rogers Chair for Mechanical Engineering Edmund Rybicki and Norberg Chair for Electrical Engineering Gerald Kane.

“I am impressed with the Physics Department’s previous funding record, publications, graduate student enrollments and post doc hires. The faculty are very capable and motivated to be productive and contribute to the success of the department. They are focused on their research and teaching,” Rybicki said.

“Adding the Physics Department to the allowed Ph.D. departments is both warranted and a necessary step to the full doctoral status the college deserves,” Kane said.

“The additional courses that the Ph.D. in physics will be offering will in effect strengthen our graduate program and the programs in the other science and engineering disciplines,” Teeters said.

Miller added that students who obtain a doctorate in physics are often sought after by universities and industry and have very low jobless rates. “A physics Ph.D. graduate is highly employable, not only in traditional physics careers but also in a variety of alternate fields as wide ranging as computational analysis of markets and information technology,” he said.


Dr. George Miller