Department overview

Our department has a strong presence in theoretical and experimental atomic physics; cloud and atmospheric physics; and solid-state and computational physics, with a combined theoretical-experimental profile. Four of our faculty members are Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS), and three carry the title of Curators' Professor within the University of Missouri System. Our department counts seven active research projects supported by the National Science Foundation. Chancellor's distinguished fellowships are available to domestic graduate students.

We cordially invite applications for entry into the physics undergraduate and graduate programs. Inquiries are to be directed to Dr. Don Madison, director of graduate admissions, at, or to Dr. Thomas Vojta, head of the physics department, at

Research directions


The astrophysics and cosmology group is at the forefront or modern research in multi-messenger astrophysics, theoretical and observational cosmology, and experimental and theoretical gravitational physics.  Multi-messenger astrophysics is a new branch of science born with the historic detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the first, far-reaching observation of a merger of two neutron stars. Missouri S&T is an institutional member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and actively participates to the LIGO experiment. Research in theoretical and observational cosmology focuses on studying the large-scale structure of the Universe to reveal its origin and fate.  Missouri S&T researchers are part of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) and the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS) experiments. Faculty members working in this are  Marko Cavaglia and Shun Saito.

Atomic physics

On the experimental side, the atomic physics group combines collision physics and laser instrumentation  in order to study fundamental processes connected with an emphasis on the quantum-mechanical many-body problem. On the theoretical side, massively parallel computer codes are employed to describe the complex collision dynamics involving molecules, and quantum electrodynamic techniques are used for accurate predictions of atomic spectra, and the description of dynamic processes involving atoms and photons. Faculty members pursuing research in this direction are Don Madison, Michael Schulz, Jerry PeacherUlrich Jentschura, Greg StoryDaniel Fischer and Anh Thu Le

Condensed matter physics

On the experimental side, the group has been successful at studying new materials, including crystal structures with novel properties, and has been studying mesoscopic superconducting junctions and devices. Theorists in the group combine massively parallel Monte Carlo simulations for the study of low-temperature, and quantum phase transitions. Other aspects of the diverse research program carried out in the solid-state physics group include  the complex structure of amorphous oxide semiconductors , wave propagation in complex media, and thermal and mechanical properties of materials in extreme environments. Faculty members active in this area are Thomas Vojta, Paul Parris, Julia MedvedevaAlexey Yamilov, Dan Waddill, Yew San Hor, and Aleksandr Chernatynskiy.  

Cloud and Atmospheric Physics

The applied physics of aircraft emission testing often takes students to places abroad where they experience test runs of new engines from a very close distance. Other members of the group maintain an interest in cloud formation physics. Another focus relates to  the thermodynamic properties of relevant  nanodroplets. Professors in this group are Barbara Hale, Gerald Wilemski and Donald Hagen.

Living in Rolla

Rolla, Missouri, is  located in the Ozark Mountains of Mid-Missouri, and is surrounded by a number of waterways, with the Meramec, Gasconade and Missouri Rivers close by. Rock formations like Iron Mountain, Taum Sauk State Park and Johnson Shut–Ins are a short drive away. The Lake of the Ozarks offers close-by resorts in an attractive environment.


In Rolla, living expenses are low compared to the national average and housing is available on campus and within walking distance of the university. International shops close to campus reflect the diverse student body of the university, from the Americas to India, the Middle East to Europe. In 2016, more than 50 country-specific contributions registered for the annual Celebration of Nations parade held in early fall.

Pdf version of this page about Missouri S&T Physics can be downloaded.