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Did You Know

Peter Delamere, an associate professor of physics, helped NASA plan the mission for the New Horizons spacecraft, which has recently made it to Pluto. The spacecraft left Earth in 2006.

Physics Department


Just look into Alaska’s night sky and you’ll see the aurora. Look through a telescope and you might see Pluto. All these are subjects that have peaked the interests of our physicists and students. They have launched rockets at the largest sounding rocket range in the world – only 40 minutes away – to study the dancing green lights. They have also helped NASA with the current mission to Pluto that has been generating a lot of buzz.

Graduate students in our department work with faculty members to study space physics, physics or computational physics. Undergraduates study a tried-and-true curriculum that will help them understand the fundamental nature of matter and energy. They will also study the response of physical systems to external forces.

Since physics concerns all phenomena in this physical world, from elementary particles to the structure and origin of the universe, your study or research of the subject will prepare you for a variety of careers, or perhaps you forge an entirely new path as you study the “whys” of our universe.

Why study physics at UAF and in Alaska?

  • Small classes means you’ll get to know fellow students.
  • Lively demos, hands-on exercises and tried-and-true curriculum will help you develop sound problem solving skills that will help you in all areas of life.
  • Our research partners have amazing facilities like the Geophysical Institute’s Poker Flat Research Range, which is the largest rocket sounding range in the world.
  • Alaska is a place where physical phenomena abounds like the aurora and sun dogs.
  • We have a proven track record with students advancing to study physics in places like Dartmouth or getting careers in IBM.
  • Our faculty are also top researchers like the professor who made national news for using complex theory to study the optimal size of electrical power grids or the professor who aided NASA in its mission to study Pluto.

Our classes allow you to explore

  • Computational Science
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Planetary atmospheres
  • Solar physics
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Particle Mechanics
  • Vibration and Waves
  • Atmospheric Radiation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Plasma Physics
  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
  • Astronomy
  • And more…

Some questions that researchers are asking

  • How does auroral processes and space weather disturb the upper atmosphere and its winds, temperatures and compositions
  • What is the optimal size of electrical power grids so that they are not so small that they are inefficient nor are they so large that they risk a huge blackout when something goes wrong
  • How can develop drifting buoys for measuring upper ocean properties in heavily ice-covered fjords

Institutes, programs and labs that foster our student and faculty research

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