About Physics programs

 Physics Faculty

Department of Physics

Location: Building, 50, Room 2600
Phone: (904) 620-2729
Fax:  (904) 620-1989
Web Address:

Dr. James L. Garner, Chair


The mission of the Department of Physics is to serve the people of the State of Florida and the nation by providing excellent educational experiences in physics, astronomy, earth and geological science, and advancing knowledge in physics through research, and service to the university, public 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 eight concentrations: traditional physics, astrophysics, engineering physics with civil or 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. 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 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 micro- and nano- electronics, environmental physics, optics, space and renewable energies, defense, health care, 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 often participate in the research of our faculty. Currently, physics students can participate in research on the experimental and theoretical properties of magnetic semiconductors and  superconductors, magnetic materials, optical studies of correlated electron systems, graphene, carbon nanotubes, non-linear optical and electrical transport properties of metallic, complex oxide, and semiconducting nanostructures, theoretical astrophysics of black holes and dark matter, experimental astrophysical studies of cosmic rays,  physics history and sensor physics. The department has an extraordinary array of major research instruments for a comprehensive university of UNF’s size: two atomic force microscopes, femto sec pulsed laser, scanning electron microscope, 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 system used for the fabrication of complex oxide multilayer films.  Finally, a multi-node computer cluster facility is under construction. UNF does not have a graduate program in physics which means faculty pay full attention to mentoring our undergraduate physics majors who routinely participate in research utilizing this wide array of equipment.

Many physics students receive financial support from faculty research grants (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 students clubs are on campus that our majors often join:  the Society of Physics Students and the Astronomy Club.

Two-thirds 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 



James L. Garner, Professor and Chairman  (Ph. D. Ohio State University, Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)

Thomas M. Pekarek, Terry Presidential Professor (Ph. D. Purdue University, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Lev V. Gasparov, Terry Presidential Professor (Ph. D. Institute for Solid State Physics, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Jane H. MacGibbon, Associate Professor (Ph. D. University of Cambridge, Theoretical Astrophysics)

Gregory Wurtz, Associate Professor (Ph. D. University of Technology of Troyes-France, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Daniel F. Santavicca, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. Yale University, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Maitri Warusawithana, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. University of Illinois, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Chris Kelso, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. University of Chicago, Theoretical Astrophysics)

Jason Haraldsen, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. University of Tennessee, Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)

John Hewitt, Assistant Professor (Ph. D. Northwestern University, Experimental Astrophysics)


John E. Anderson, Senior Lecturer (Ph. D. Harvard University, Experimental Biophysics)

Nirmalkumar G. Patel, Senior Lecturer (Ph. D. Patel University, India, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Lynn B. Albright, Lecturer (Ph. D. University of California-Riverside, Geology)

Visiting Faculty

James L. Montgomery, Visiting Instructor (M.S. University of Central Florida, Experimental Optics)

Emeritus Faculty

Jay Huebner, Professor (Ph. D. University of California-Riverside, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics)

Dennis Gay, Associate Professor (Ph. D. Florida State University, Experimental Nuclear Physics)


Phil Davis, Lab Manager (Ph. D. Rice University, Experimental Physical Chemistry)

Trevor Cheatham, Office Manager

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