Department of Physics & Astronomy, Northwestern University

The Department of Physics and Astronomy pursues two main goals: the advancement of science through world-class research activities in a wide variety of fields, and the education of undergraduate and graduate students who eventually will continue such activity.

Northwestern’s department currently has 29 graduate faculty including joint appointments) and 6 faculty at other ranks (lecturers, research faculty). The graduate program generally has about 90 graduate students and 40 full-time Postdoctoral research Fellows associated with it, along with a varying number of Visiting Scholars and other distinguished guests. In most years we have about 60 undergraduate majors in our department, many of them working in our research programs.

The University has very active research programs that span many areas of physics, from thermal effects in mesoscopic systems to the nature of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In addition to recently renovated space in Dearborn Observatory and Northwestern’s Technological Institute, the faculty use dozens of off-campus research facilities, from the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, to the Hubble Space Telescope. Last year, the research budget was in excess of $6,500,000.

Northwestern University recently made headlines when two of its astrophysicists – Vicky Kalogera and Shane L. Larson – were announced as helping to contribute to the confirmation of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. Dr. Kalogera and Dr. Larson are members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), which carries out LIGO-related research. Their contributions to the discovery include making predictions for anticipated detections, interpreting the astrophysics, analyzing the data and characterizing the detectors.

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