Department of Physics

West Chester University

Chair: Anthony J. Nicastro
127 Merion Science Center
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610.436.2497
Fax: 610.436.3013


We offer a comprehensive education in Physics and exciting research opportunities that prepare students for academic and professional careers. Our small upper-level classes (around 10 students) allow for close faculty-student interactions and mentoring. Many students take part in cutting-edge research with faculty members. We continue to stay in touch and act as a resource to graduates long after they obtain their degree. Please stop by the Department and discover for yourself all we have to offer.

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Our B.S. Ed program is in "5+ Club"

West Chester University has been added to "The 5+ Club", a prestigious roster of institutions that have produced five or more physics teachers in a single year. The list is managed by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC).

The 5+ Club winners, a total of 12 institutions that also includes Rowan University (5), University of Arkansas (5) and Boston University (6), were recognized at the opening plenary of the PhysTEC Conference in Baltimore in March. Brigham Young University topped the list, graduating 17 physics teachers in one year.

PhysTEC is an education program of the American Physical Society (APS) in partnership with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), with support from the National Science Foundation.

More information on "5+ Club" can be found at PhysTEC.

2015 Distinguished SPS chapter

West Chester University chapter of the Society of Physics Students(SPS) has been selected as one of the Distinguished SPS Chapters in zone 03.

SPS Chapter Awards are selected by Zone Councilors and Associate Zone Councilors of the SPS National Council. Some of the award criteria include the chapter's involvement in local zone and national SPS meetings and other professional meeting, outreach efforts, contributions to student recruitment and retention.

Dr. Thornton and collaborators receive NSF grant

At an altitude of 17,000 ft. in the Chilean Andes, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) is one of the highest ground-based telescopes in the world. Dr. Thornton is currently on sabbatical to help design and build a new millimeter-wavelength camera, called Advanced ACT (AdvACT), for the telescope. This new instrument will unite cutting-edge polarization-sensitive detectors developed under NASA funding with the existing telescope to provide a combination of resolution, sensitivity, frequency and sky coverage unmatched by any current or planned instruments. AdvACT will answer questions about the origins of the universe, the properties of its massive contents, the formation of structures under the influence of gravity, and the nature of dark energy.

Dr. Thornton publishes an article in Physical Review Letters

Dr. Bob Thornton has co-authored a study that has been published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters. Titled "Detection of the Power Spectrum of Cosmic Microwave Background Lensing by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope", the article addresses the question of "Which theory best describes the beginning of the universe?" Article can be found here.

Congratulations Dr. Thornton.

Physics Tea Every Thursday


Join us each Thursday at 3:00 pm in the Physics Library (Merion 125) for The Physics Tea. This is a social time we have set aside for physics students and faculty to chat about physics, classes, grad school, and anything else that happens to come up in conversation. It's a great time to relax and see your professors and classmates in an informal atmosphere outside the classroom. Visitors are welcome, especially alumni and prospective students!

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Physics students chosen for Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) 2015

Physics majors, Cameron Sprowls and Kamron Salavatibar are chosen to participate in the second Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI). Cameron will conduct experimental research under the guidance of Dr. Matthew M. Waite and Kamron will conduct computational research under the guidance of Dr. Anil K. Kandalam during the summer of 2015.

Dr. Aptowicz Awarded $168,000 Army Research Office Grant

The Environmental Sciences Division of the Army Research Office (ARO) recently awarded a grant to Dr. Kevin Aptowicz in the amount of $168,000 over three years. The grant titled Angularly-Resolved Elastic Light Scattering of Atmospheric Particles: Experimental Measurements and Model Verification blends the exploration of an unsolved puzzle in aerosol characterization with well-designed and pedagogically sound research projects for undergraduates. The scientific question at hand is deceptively simple: how do aerosol particles scatter light? The answer to this question turns out to be quite complex for a number of reasons but mainly because of the diversity of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. By using a newly devised approach to analyze single-particle scattering patterns, Dr. Aptowicz hopes to evolve our understanding of light scattering from atmospheric aerosol particles and provide urgently needed experimental data for light scattering model validation and refinement.

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Career Opportunities

With a Physics degree, you can pursue a career in research, engineering, teaching, government, medicine, finance, economics, law & litigation, consulting, writing & publishing, and more!


West Chester University has been named a best buy by Kiplinger Magazine for our excellent education at an affordable price.

In addition, the Physics Department offers the following scholarships, for current students:

Robert M. Brown Endowed Scholarship
Dr. Michael F. Martens Award
Diane and Roger Casagrande Scholarship
Benjamin Faber Award
The Science and Theology Award

Additional information is available in the Student Handbook for Physics Majors.