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Recruitment poster MIS Physics Degree


The department of Physics and Astronomy has offered a Five Year Integrated Masters in Physics since 2012. In this program students can graduate in 5 years with both a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree.

Intergrated MS Physics Program of Study

The program is rooted in the exceptionally strong world class research program in the department. Research areas span cutting edge programs in Gravitational Wave and Radio Astronomy, Applied Optics and Lasers, Nano-sciences, Astroinformatics and Biophysics. The department has established high standards in education by incorporating undergraduate research into the curriculum right from the beginning. There are six state of the art laboratories in the department that house some of the most powerful lasers, remote control access to the world's largest radio telescope, atomic force microscopes, cryogenic materials research devices, and very powerful computer clusters. The department has a cooperative Ph. D Physics program.

For more details contact Department of Physics and Astronomy

Society of Physics Students

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics. The only requirement for membership is that you be interested in physics. Besides physics majors, our members include majors in chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and other fields.

Within SPS is housed Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. This unique two-in-one society operates within the American Institute of Physics, an umbrella organization for ten other professional science societies.

Regular Meetings are held on Wednesdays at 12PM in Rusteberg 205.


UTB Congratulates BICEP2 Colleagues

The UTB Department of Physics and Astronomy and Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy join their colleagues in the gravitational wave astronomy community in congratulating the BICEP2 team. Read the CGWA press release. Read the LIGO statement.

UTB Selected to Host Physics Conference

The University of Texas at Brownsville has been selected as the site for a 2015 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). This event will be a three day regional conference for undergraduate physics majors. The conference organizer is Dr. Cristina Torres. More info on the CUWiP.

UTB Physics Student Selected as NASA Ambasssador

UTB Physics student Jose McKinnon has been selected by NASA as one of 105 top-performing interns, representing 29 states and 67 universities, inducted into NASA's 2014 Student Ambassadors Virtual Community. The NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community (NSAVC) is an online network designed to foster greater interaction and mentorship among outstanding interns of NASA higher education projects. This is the sixth group of student ambassadors to receive the honor since 2009. Student Ambassador Profile.

Nanoscience Program Graduates First Cohort

The UTB nanoscience certificate program exposes students to nanotechnology areas as part of broader approach to integrate nanoscale education in UTB’s undergraduate programs. This option prepares students for the emerging market of nanotechnology research and industry by providing basic scientific and research skills. Read more. Program website.

UTB REU Applications Due Feb 15

Applications for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at UTB are due on February 15, 2014. Selected students will spend the summer at UTB working on research projects in astrophysics, biophysics, gravitational wave detection, lasers and photonics, nano-science and advanced materials or radio, optical astronomy and applied physics. Participants will receive a stipend of $5,000, travel support up to $600, and room and board. More info and application.

NASA Internship Recruiting at UTB Feb 11-13

NASA scientists and engineers will visit UTB to recruit students for paid summer internships at NASA centers. Students must attend an information session on Tuesday, Feb 11 or Wednesday, Feb 12 to qualify for an interview on Thursday, Feb 13. Faculty are invited to a brown bag networking lunch with NASA personnel Wednesday, Feb 12 12:30-2pm in Gran Salon. News article.

2014 UTB Physics and Astronomy High School Poster Contest Underway

The UTB Department of Physics and Astronomy is currently hosting a poster contest for high school students. Teachers have nominated students interested in physics and astronomy to participate in the contest by working with a faculty mentor to produce a poster on a research topic. The student posters will be presented in a public event at UTB on Saturday, February 15 4-6pm in Salon Cassia. All participants, families, classmates, and the public are invited to attend. For more info

Physics student leads UTB Team Ocelot to win prestigious ACM ICPC contest

UTB's team “Ocelot”, led by physics undergraduate student Ali Amir Aldan, has won the prestigious International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) sponsored by IBM, beating 56 other teams including Rice University, UT Austin, UT Dallas, Texas A&M and others. The two other members of the team are Physics major Satzhan Sitmukhambetov and Computer Science major Raynaldo Rae. The team has been coached by Dr. Liyu Zhang, an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at UTB. For more info

Physics Student Lands Internship at Facebook, Inc.

Ali-Amir Aldan, a sophomore physics major at The University of Texas at Brownsville, hit the jackpot with his summer internship at Facebook in Menlo Park, California. As a member of Kazakhstan’s national competitive programming team, he selected UTB upon recommendation from his coach to work with Dr. Malik Rakhmanov, Assistant Professor of physics at the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy, who is originally from Kazakhstan. Aldan’s participation on his country’s national competitive programming team put him in a position to be spotted by Facebook, and the company contacted him for the summer internship. For more info

Faculty and students are engaged in fundamental research in relativistic astrophysics, gravitational wave astronomy, biophysics, nanoscience, and optics.

Publications by department faculty members:

Fall 2012 - Summer 2013

Fall 2011 - Summer 2012


Fermi-normal (FN) coordinates provide a standardized way to describe the effects of gravitation from the point of view of an inertial observer. These coordinates have always been introduced via perturbation expansions and were usually limited to distances much less than the characteristic length scale set by the curvature of spacetime. For a plane gravitational wave this scale is given by its wavelength which defines the domain of validity for these coordinates known as the long-wavelength regime. The symmetry of this spacetime, however, allows us to extend FN coordinates far beyond the longwavelength regime. Here we present an explicit construction for this long-range FN coordinate system based on the unique solution of the boundary-value problem for spacelike geodesics. More...

Nanoenergetic systems also known as metastable intermolecular composites (MIC) have various potential applications as propellants, explosives, and primers. The development of novel MIC systems, their design, synthesis and fabrication procedures are critical for national security and it was recognized as a significant addition to support of changing force structure for advanced weapons platforms. Our research at UTB focuses on developing a framework of principles for design and fabrication of nano-tailored highly energetic systems and nanoenergetic gas generators (NGG) for advanced energetic platforms. This involved a systematic study of physics based knowledge in energy release, shock waves and pressure discharge needed to enhance the performance and functionality of novel high density energetic systems.
Read article...

Galaxies appear simpler than before” by Disney et al. The image shows a montage of coloured images of a dozen galaxies (huge whirlpools of stars in space) drawn from our survey of the universe, which is the subject of the letter. As well as being very beautiful they have considerable scientific interest too because they show a wider variety of galaxies than it has been possible to portray before. Hitherto galaxies were found optically, and hence tended to look rather like one another. These, however, were picked up in a radio survey and imaged only afterwards. Consequently they exhibit a much wider range of colours, shapes and surface brightnesses. Intriguingly some of them, although close-by in cosmic terms, are almost, but not quite, invisible. We believe both astronomers and laymen will find them fascinating. Copyright belongs to one of the co-authors, Andrew West. Read article...


Although predicted by S. Rytov more than sixty years ago the experimental proof that radiative heat transfer can be exponentially improved by reducing the gap between two surfaces of different temperature was only recently demonstrated for macroscopic objects with a geometry that can be compared with theoretical predictions. The scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Brownsville demonstrated good agreement between theoretical prediction and measurement. When an “infinite” warm surface is separated from a cooler one by a vacuum gap, the rate of radiative heat transfer between the two shouldn’t depend on the size of the gap. According to theory, though, this picture doesn’t hold when the surfaces are sufficiently close. In the paper "Near-Field Radiative Heat Transfer between Macroscopic Planar Surfaces" (Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 014301, 2011), the scientists focused on a straightforward planar geometry. The heat transfer between two parallel square sapphire plates, each about two inches on a side, was measured for separations from a 0.1 mm down to only a few microns. A pronounced increase in heat transfer is seen as the gap between the plates is reduced following the theoretical predictions. In principle, near-field heat transfer could be used to control the temperature of an object without ever contacting it. This is an interesting possibility for cooling the sensitive mirrors in future gravity wave detectors.

Using recent data from the LIGO interferometers, LIGO scientists have been able to constrain the fractional energy density in gravitational waves to < 6.9 x10-6 (at 95% confidence) in a ~100 Hz band around 100 Hz. This number improves on indirect limits on the gravitational wave background obtained from the relative abundance of light elements in the very early universe (Big Bang Nucleosynthesis). The attached figure shows various limits on the gravitational wave background and predictions from three different models (inflation, pre-Big Bang cosmology, and cosmic strings). The indirect limits are from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the Cosmic Microwave Background; the direct limits are from the LIGO S4 and S5 science data (see attached paper), and from pulsar timing data. Projected limits from the advanced LIGO detectors, the CMB Planck satellite mission, and the proposed space-based interferometer LISA are also shown. More...

We study the fluctuation-induced, time-dependent force between two plates confining a correlated fluid which is driven out of equilibrium mechanically by harmonic vibrations of one of the plates. For a purely relaxational dynamics of the fluid we calculate the fluctuation-induced force generated by the vibrating plate on the plate at rest. The time-dependence of this force is characterized by a positive lag time with respect to the driving. We obtain two distinctive contributions to the force, one generated by diffusion of stress in the fluid and another related to resonant dissipation in the cavity. The relation to the dynamic Casimir effect of the electromagnetic field and possible experiments to measure the time-dependent Casimir force are discussed. More...

Department of Physics and Astronomy • UTB • One West University Boulevard • Brownsville, TX 78520
Main Office: LHSB 2.228 • Phone: 956-882-6779 • Fax: 956-882-6726


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