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Welcome to Physics and Astronomy

Welcome to the website of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Maine.
Located in the town of Orono, along the banks of the Stillwater River, the University offers a strong traditional education at an affordable price. The state’s land grant and sea grant university and the flagship institution in the University of Maine System, UMaine is one of New England’s premier universities. Our students create success stories — with a wide variety of programs and opportunities — and we do so with world-class faculty members, internationally recognized research; first-rate facilities; a friendly, safe atmosphere; and easy access to some of the best year-round recreation sites in the nation. We are a department comprised of 15 faculty members, all dedicated to teaching and research in areas including, but not limited to, biophysics, nanophysics/surface science, physics and astronomy education research, statistical physics, spiral galaxies and galaxy clusters, and environmental/health physics; 30 Graduate students; and 80 undergraduate majors. We offer BA and BS degrees in physics and engineering physics and also offer minors in both physics and astronomy.


May 2015

Congratulations to Jennifer Lilieholm and Julia Sell on their successful undergraduate thesis defenses! Congratulations, also, to Bryn Nugent, who successfully defended her Master’s thesis.  Congratulations, ladies!! The Department of Physics and Astronomy is very proud of you and all your hard work!

The High School Science Teachers Meeting will be held in May! The University of Maine Department of Physics and Astronomy has hosted the annual meeting for high school physics and physical science teachers since 1979.  This year, the 35th Annual Meeting will take place on Monday, May 11.  We have presentations and workshops on both content and pedagogy from teachers and scientists in Maine.

For the schedule of this year’s meeting, please click here.

For general information about the annual meeting, please click here.

April 2015

Ph.D. Candidate, David Stewart, recently attended the 42nd International Conference on Metallurgical Coatings and Thin Films in San Diego (ICMCTF), along with Dr. Robert Lad of LASST. Both Dr. Lad and Stewart gave talks on their recent work and research, in addition to attending talks given by professors and graduate students from around the world.  I’m told they also had the opportunity to play with harbor seals on the beach when not attending conference events!

Dr. Michael Wittmann recently gave a colloquium at Kansas State University, titled: “Investigating Teacher Knowledge of Energy, Students’ Ideas, and Pedagogical Strategies.”

Dr. John Thompson gave a talk at Bates College on January 22nd of this year for the STEM Initiative Seminar, titled: “Discipline-based education research (DBER) and its role in instructional reform: A view from physics.”

Several professors have recently had papers published and accepted in science journals. These, among others, are listed on our Recent Publications page.

Physics Department undergraduate, Julia Sell, recently was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Julia will begin her graduate studies this fall at the University of Maryland, working toward a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics. UMaine media recently published an article announcing the award, which can be read here. Congratulations, Julia!

February 2015

Coming Soon!!

The first Maine Science Festival, sponsored in part by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be held March 20-22, stretching across Bangor, from the library to the Cross Center. There will be several presentations and talks ranging from panels on climate change and alternative energy to sessions on forensics which include simulated crime scenes to be solved by you! The Maine State Science Fair will be held throughout the day on Saturday, the 22nd, followed that evening by headlining speaker, Academy Award winner, Tony DeRose, Senior Scientist and Lead of the Research Group at PIXAR animation studios. DeRose will take the audience behind the scenes of PIXAR animated films and explain what science and research goes into making them, from physics and liquid dynamics to computer science and engineering.

From forensics and robotics to the science of music and of home brewing, there’s something for everyone! Check out the Maine Science Festival website for more information on the festival and for events scheduling!

August 2014

Welcome, Dr. Andrej Favia! Favia recently completed his Ph.D in Physics at UMaine and has been hired as an Assistant Professor (2-year fixed length) in the Physics Department. Congratulations Dr. Favia!

July 2014

Professor Michael Wittmann has taken over as Physics Department Chair after Dr. David Batuski retired from the position. Dr. Batuski chaired the department for 10 years and will continue teaching courses. He is currently on a much deserved sabbatical. Thank you and congratulations to both Dr. Batuski and Dr. Wittmann!


The following videos were taken by Professor Sam Hess and his students, with drones, as part of an outreach project. Enjoy!

Winter scenes of UMaine Campus, featuring Fogler Library, Stevens Hall, the UMaine South Entrance, the Collins Center, Bennett Hall, the Mall and Memorial Union, West Campus and the Stillwater River, East Campus, Hitchner Hall, the Bear Statue, the Engineering Science Research Building, Alfond Arena, the Alumni House, and a campus panorama.

Video of the Emera Astronomy Center at UMaine, while under construction, featuring the new observatory and planetarium.



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