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2023-2024 University Catalog
threeColumn catalog

Department of Physics

About Physics programs

Physics Faculty

Location: Building, 50, Room 2600
Phone: (904) 620-2729
Fax: (904) 620-1989
Web Address:
Dr. Greg Wurtz, Chair


The mission of the Department of Physics is to serve the people of the State of Florida and the nation by providing state-of-the-art educational experiences in physics, astronomy, earth and geological science, and advancing knowledge in physics through research, and service to the university, the community and our profession. As a primary constituent of a liberal arts education, we seek to foster an appreciation of the physical world and an understanding of the scientific method of inquiry. We aspire to install in our students the principles, motivations, comprehension, and vision to prepare them for careers in physics and related fields, for physics teaching careers, and for intellectual growth throughout their lives.

The Program

The Department of Physics offers the Bachelor of Science degree in physics with the following concentrations: traditional physics, astrophysics, engineering physics with electrical or mechanical engineering emphases, and computing emphasis, physics: materials science and premedical physics for those students who desire to matriculate to a medical school or a graduate program in medical physics. A minor is also offered in physics. Interested students may decide to major in physics while choosing the physics teaching option which combines the physics baccalaureate degree with an education minor. Some students may choose the traditional physics major along with a minor in business. The department offers honors-in-the physics major. The department encourages the more applied-oriented physics majors to take part in industrial internships. Other opportunities for our majors include a teaching apprenticeship program, and an exchange program at the University of Technology of Troyes, France.

The Department of Physics also participates in a Masters of Science in Materials Science and Engineering. In this multidisciplinary graduate program, students study materials from their fundamental make-up and associated properties to their processing and integration in the design and development of new composite materials and devices. This degree is offered in partnership with the School of Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Biology.

The importance of physics in the intellectual and economic life of the 21st century is clear to thoughtful individuals. The increased use of complex technologies in nanoelectronics, environmental physics, optics, space and renewable energies, defense, health care, advanced manufacturing and other industries provides ample evidence that the value of understanding physics will continue to be important for individuals and society. Physics provides a strong foundation of skills which allows for our students to also enter professional and graduate studies both within and outside the physics discipline. The faculty members are committed to excellence in undergraduate instruction and have the two-fold objectives of teaching physics, astronomy, earth and geological sciences to students from all programs of the university while also educating competent baccalaureate physicists who engage in active and productive funded research on topics of current interest to society at large.

Students in the physics program always participate in the research of our faculty. Currently, physics students can participate in research on the experimental and theoretical properties of magnetic semiconductors, superconductors, magnetic materials, optical studies of correlated electron systems, graphene, carbon nanotubes, nanophotonic devices, non-linear optical and electrical transport properties of metamaterials, Dirac materials, nanomagnets, metallic, complex oxide, and semiconducting nanostructures, theoretical astrophysics of black holes and dark matter, experimental astrophysical studies of cosmic rays, and physics history. The department has an extraordinary array of major research instruments for a comprehensive university of UNF's size: two atomic force microscopes, femtosecond pulsed laser, scanning electron microscope-EDAX and Ebeam lithography, photolithography instrument, Raman spectrometer, SQUID magnetometer, physical properties measurement system, and thermal and electron vacuum deposition systems for thin films. In addition, the department is one of only a handful of primarily undergraduate universities in the nation that has a Helium liquefier facility and a dual chamber molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system used for the fabrication of complex oxide multilayer films. The department also has a multi-node computer cluster facility for intensive numerical simulations.

Many physics students receive financial support from faculty research grants (e.g. National Science Foundation, Research Corporation, and NASA), and university grants and scholarships to support their research activities under the mentorship of the faculty. Students are often times employed by the university and department as tutors and graders. The department supports students via scholarships (e.g., Hercules and Shacter). Two active student clubs are on campus that our majors often join: the Society of Physics Students and the Astronomy Club.

Many of the physics graduates at UNF over the past decade have continued their studies in graduate or professional schools around the nation and the world.

Department of Physics Faculty


Paula Mariel Coelho Neto, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. University of South Florida, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Lev V. Gasparov, Terry Presidential Professor & Associate Dean (Ph. D. Institute for Solid State Physics, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Jason Haraldsen, Associate Professor (Ph. D. University of Tennessee, Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)
John William Hewitt, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. Northwestern University, Experimental Astrophysics)
Chris Kelso, Associate Professor (Ph. D. University of Chicago, Theoretical Astrophysics)
Jane H. MacGibbon, Associate Professor (Ph. D. University of Cambridge, Theoretical Astrophysics)
Thomas M. Pekarek, Terry Presidential Professor (Ph. D. Purdue University, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Daniel F. Santavicca, Associate Professor (Ph. D. Yale University, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Maitri Warusawithana, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. University of Illinois, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Gregory Wurtz, Associate Professor and Chairman (Ph. D. University of Technology of Compiegne-France, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)


Lynn B. Albright, Associate Lecturer (Ph. D. University of California-Riverside, Geology)
Grace P. Bossé, Associate Instructor and Lab Manager (Ph. D. Johns Hopkins University, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)
Michael Johnson, Lecturer (Ph. D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Geoscience)
James L. Montgomery, Lecturer (M.S. University of Central Florida, Experimental Optics)
Nirmalkumar G. Patel, Associate Lecturer (Ph. D. Patel University, India, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)


Emeritus Faculty

John E. Anderson, Associate Lecturer (Ph. D. Harvard University, Experimental Biophysics)
James L. Garner, Professor (Ph. D. Ohio State University, Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)
Dennis Gay, Associate Professor (Ph. D. Florida State University, Experimental Nuclear Physics)
Jay Huebner, Professor (Ph. D. University of California-Riverside, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)


Loraine Morgan, Office Manager