With a Physics degree, you can pursue a career in research, engineering, teaching, government, medicine, finance, consulting, writing & publishing, and more.
The Department of Physics and Engineering offers three degree programs:
- B.S. degree in Physics.
- Dual degree 3-2 Physics-Engineering program which awards a B.S. in Physics from WCU and a bachelor's degree in Engineering from one of our engineering affiliate institutions
- B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering
All of our programs offer a comprehensive education in physics, including foundations in theoretical, computational, and experimental fields. All of our students enjoy small upper-level class sizes, access to cutting-edge research opportunities, and one-on-one faculty mentoring. Graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs, worked in quantum computing, at the Department of Defense, and enjoyed teaching the next generation of physics majors in local high schools. Visit the department, located in Merion Science Center, or email the department Chair,Dr. Matthew Waite.
News and Updates
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell and a team of investigators were recently awarded an NSF S-STEM grant (Grant ##2028230) through the WCU Center of Nanomaterials. The title of the project is "S-STEM: Increasing the Persistence of STEM Majors through Nanoscience-Themed Activities that Support Academic, Professional, and Personal Engagement and Development." This ~$1 million award will provide scholarships, research stipends, and internship opportunities to 18 students who have demonstrated financial need as indicated by having Pell Grant Eligibility. The purpose of this project grant is to develop and implement a program to increase the recruitment and retention of STEM majors at WCU, with a focus on Nanoscience in Health and Technology. More details about the S-STEM and how to apply can be found on the program website.
- Physics undergraduates Kelsey Ortiz, Tessa Turner, and Leigh Parrot, West Chester University has been awarded a Women in Physics Group Grant in the amount of $1,000 from the American Physical Society to start a Society of Women in Physics (SWiP).
The Society of Women in Physics (SWiP) is a new organization focused on supporting and celebrating minority students in the physics and engineering department. Of all the STEM disciplines, women are most underrepresented in physics. According to the American Physical Society, only 22% percent of physics bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women. In all other STEM disciplines, 37% of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women. We hope to address the issues of inclusivity in physics at West Chester University through various activities. SWiP will offer mentoring opportunities, host women speakers, perform outreach to local high schools, and provide a community for the women in the department. We hope you will get involved and support us!
- WCU Center for Nano Materials. The WCU Center for Nanomaterials (CNM) was created to be a catalyst for fostering research and teaching initiatives in the area of nanomaterials. It provides an avenue for faculty in various sciences such as Physics and Engineering to carry out multidisciplinary research projects and shape future research directions. Moreover, the CNM is a platform for faculty to seek external funding opportunities, especially those that increase the accessibility of state-of-the-art research equipment and innovative research opportunities for undergraduate students.
Learn more about the WCU Center for Nanomaterials HERE.
Announcement of Retirement of Professor Anthony Nicastro
Dear Members and Friends of the Department of Physics and Engineering:
It is with mixed emotions that we announce that after more than 30 years of dedicated service to the WCU community, Professor Anthony Nicastro has retired from the Faculty of West Chester University.
Professor Nicastro earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Delaware in 1981. After 9 years on the Faculty of Bucknell University, Professor Nicastro began his career as a faculty member of Physics at WCU in 1990. He became Chair of the Department of Physics in 2002 and served in that position until his retirement this past August. Over the years, through his leadership, the Department has grown tremendously, now housing two Physics programs as well as the Biomedical Engineering program, with over 14 faculty and 100 Physics majors. He has served on numerous committees and has been instrumental in the shaping of many programs College and University wide.
Professor Nicastro's research expertise is in the field of experimental condensed matter physics. He studies and explores the physics of liquid crystals, especially in regards to optical, thermal, and high-field phenomena at phase transitions. In recent years, he has developed interest in the area of biophysics and has worked on the biomechanics of animals in collaboration with the faculty in the Department of Biology.
We are grateful for Professor Nicastro's 30 years of service and for all his efforts to bolster student success, to build and strengthen the Department. His dedication to WCU, combined with his passion for his work, has made him an invaluable asset.
Please join us in thanking Professor Nicastro for his years of dedicated and exceptional service to West Chester University and wish him the best in his retirement.
- Lerbi Nouboud, a sophomore Biomedical Engineering major, has been selected by the West Chester University Alumni Association & Foundation Scholarship Committee as a recipient of the Winifield W. Menhennett Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Scholarships are funded by generous alumni and donors who wish to support the educational experience of students like Lerbi. Please join us in congratulating Nerbi for his achievement.
- Garrett Compton (Physics ’19, Mathematics ’20) and Dr. Ian Morrison recently published a paper "Hidden symmetries for transparent de Sitter space" in Classical and Quantum Gravity. Read the article here. Their work investigates surprising patterns in our model of the early universe. Garrett presented early results on this project as part of the WCU Summer Undergraduate Research Institute program in Summer 2019.
- Congratulations to the 2020 recipients of the Department of Physics and Engineering
Robert M. Brown Endowed Scholarship for Physics: Christopher McEachron
Michael F. Martens Award for Achievement in Physics: Charles Ammon, Matthew Pellegrini, Zachary Gutzat, Thomas Whoriskey
Faculty Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Physics: Sara Adamkovic and Carlos Nunez-Huitron
The Lei and Song Li Family Biomedical Engineering Scholarship: Alexa Cesari and Shawn Menden
Benjamin Faber Scholarship: Ryan McMonigle
Dr. Russell K. Rickert Award for Undergraduate Student Research: Abbas Husain
The Richard and Jeanette Merion Scholarship: Stephen Dages
The Yaroseck Family Scholarship: Zach Reilly (Bio BSED)
Dr. Gary Pascuzzo Scholarship: Evan Bunce
- This year we were fortunate to have a large number of students whose academic performance merited their being inducted into the WCU chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honors Society. Our 2020 inductees include: Charles H. Ammon, Morgan Benedik, Paulo B. Castro, Seth M. Copelman, Stephen Dages, Abbas Husain, Christopher K. McEachron, Kelsey C. Ortiz, Elizabeth P. Pedlow, Matthew D. Penecale, Sequoyah Walters, and Thomas J. Whoriskey. Congratulations to these students for all of their hard work.
- Biomedical Engineering program receives $200,000 scholarship endowment. The Lei and Song Li Scholarship for Biomedical Engineering at WCU, from Dr. Li and his family, will support the development and help establish the WCU Biomedical Engineering program. Dr. Li is the founder and Chairman of Frontage Holdings, the parent company of Frontage Laboratories, a contract research organization specializing in R&D product development services with operations in both the U.S. and China. Frontage Labs is headquartered in Exton, PA.
- Dr. Shawn Pfeil was awarded a Provost’s Research Grant for his proposal, “Looping and Pulling a DNA G-quadruplex.” Dr. Pfeil’s research focuses on the physics of biomolecules, and developing new tools to study them. In this project he will be investigating the response of a novel DNA structure, the Tell22 G-quadruplex, to tension forces. This work has the possibility to shed light on possible roles for G-quadruplexes in genomic instability and cancer.
- Physics Major Sequoyah Walters wins Outstanding Student Award. This award recognizes one outstanding senior student from the College of Sciences and Mathematics who has shown exceptional intellectual or creative achievement and who has demonstrated involvement in extracurricular and service activities. Sequoyah presented his research at the The Seventeenth Conference on Electromagnetic & Light Scattering.
- Dr. Thornton received a subaward to work on the Simons Observatory. West Chester is part of a collaboration of over 45 institutions that have been granted over $100 million by the Simons Foundation to build a series of telescopes that will be located at 17,000 ft. (5180 meters) in the Atacama Desert. The observatory will make unprecedented measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation.
- Prof. Brandon Mitchell, Prof. Anil Kandalam, and Prof. Shawn Pfeil were recently awarded a WCU-COURSE grant, which will fund the revitalization of a research-based senior level course offering, PHY 450 (Advanced Physics Lab I). As part of this project, the PIs will develop a series of advanced undergraduate laboratory modules that utilize modern experimental and computational research techniques. The modules will focus on the physical and chemical properties of technologically significant materials such as silicon and gallium nitride, as well as nanomaterials and biological systems such as novel DNA structures. The unifying theme of the modules will be the use of a real-world interdisciplinary approach to study the properties of materials, and they will tie into the methodologies and practices used by the PIs in their own research.
- Eric Lechner, who graduated from WCU with a B.S. in Physics in 2013, recently obtained his Ph.D. at Temple University. The title of his dissertation is, "Electron Tunneling Studies of Materials for Superconducting Radio Frequency Applications."
- Dr. Kevin Aptowicz was recognized by the American Chemical Society for his superior contributions to the grant review program of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell's research has been selected to be recognized at West Chester University's third annual Spotlight on Research Event. This event serves to "celebrate with local community leaders the outstanding contributions of several of our faculty, who [...] are contributing nationally and internally to advancing scholarship and research in their fields of study."
- Dr. Kevin Aptowicz and collaborators recently published a paper Correlations between short- and long-time relaxation in colloidal supercooled liquids and glasses in Physical Review E as a Rapid Communication. Read the article here.
- Dr. Shawn Pfeil and collaborators recently published a paper Nanoaperture fabrication via colloidal lithography for single molecule fluorescence analysis in PLOS One. Read the article here.
The Department welcomes our newest faculty member, Dr. Jesse Placone, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Placone received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He then completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Maryland and the University of California San Diego. Dr. Placone's research involves studying the mechanisms behind cell-substrate interactions and stem cell differentiation on 3Dprinted scaffolds.
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell recently gave a talk at The International Conference on Defects in Semiconductors in Seattle, WA.
- Congratulations to Physics majors Paulo Castro ('20), Garrett Compton ('20), and Thomas Whoriskey ('21) for earning WCU Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) Extension grants. These grants will extend their summer research with faculty at WCU.
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell's recent research has been written about in several news outlets, including Gizmodo and Display Daily. Congrats!
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell and collaborators recently published a paper Color-Tunablility in GaN LEDs Based on Atomic Emission Manipulation under Current Injection in ACS Photonics. Read the article here.
- The Department wishes godspeed to the 2019 Modern Physics Study Abroad program. Nine majors and Dr. Matthew Waite will spend the next three weeks studying in London!
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell recently gave a talk at Compound Semiconductor Week in Nara, Japan. He is spending three weeks conducing research at Osaka University, where he is a Visiting Scholar.
- Congratulations to our Class of 2019 graduates!
- Dr. Brandon Mitchell and collaborators recently published a paper Picosecond time-resolved dynamics of energy transfer between GaN and the various excited states of Eu3+ ions in Physical Review B. Read the article here.
- The Department held its 22nd annual Awards Ceremony and Colloquium on April 11, 2019.
Students honored with scholarships and awards include:
- Department of Physics & Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Maxwell Henderson
- Robert M. Brown Endowed Scholarship for Physics: Alexander Lowry ('19)
- Michael F. Martens Award for Achievement in Physics: Matthew Penecale ('20), Garrett Compton ('20), Valerie Woolaghan ('19), Jiahaw Fu ('19)
- Dr. Gary Pascuzzo Scholarship: Gina Dippolito
- The Benjamin Faber Scholarship: Elizabeth Pedlow ('20)
- Faculty Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Physics: Stephen Dages ('20), Anna Dyska ('19), Kelsy Ortiz ('21)
- Dr. Russell K. Rickert Award for Undergraduate Student Research: Sequoyah Walters ('19)
- Richard and Jeanette Merion Scholarship: Joseph Backowski ('19)
- The Yarosewick Family Scholarship: Veronica Muir, Olivia Kimber
- Congratulations to WCU's new members of the Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honors Society: Joseph Backowski ('19), Sean Cadden ('20), Garrett Compton ('20), Jiahaw Fu ('19), and Alexander Lowry ('19).
- Dr. Anthony Nicastro was a co-author of a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL. Dr. Frank Fish (Biology) gave their presentation, titled “Spin-leap performance by cetaceans is influenced by moment of inertia”.
- Dr. Anthony Nicastro, Dr. Frank Fish (Biology, and collaborators recently published a paper: Terrestrial locomotion of the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris): limitation of large aquatically adapted seals on land? in Journal of Experimental Biology. Read the article here.