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Physics and Astronomy Home – 100th

Celebrating a century of success - the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy: 100 years of Education, Innovation, and DiscoveryThe Department of Physics and Astronomy invites you to join in our 100th anniversary celebration, featuring a year of special events, including our Distinguished Colloquium Series and tributes to some of the department’s most legendary educators, innovators, and discoverers.

For a full century, WSU physicists have been at the forefront of scientific achievement and advancing understanding of the universe. From the development of ultra-high vacuum technology to the recent detection of gravitational waves from distant galaxies, our faculty, students, and researchers have made many critical contributions to progress in diverse arenas. The foundational work of WSU physicists and astronomers has led to a rich blossoming of further research and advancements in science, industry, energy, medicine, food production, security, transportation, and more.

With our strong history to build upon, imagine what we will do in the next 100 years!

Paul Anderson William Band George Duval

Paul Anderson
(WSU 1931-1963)
Innovator of ultra-high vacuum technology

William Band
(WSU 1949-1971)
Vanguard in theoretical physics
George Duvall
(WSU 1964-1988)
Pioneer in shock physics

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Exploring Laws of the Universe

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University is built around a small but highly productive faculty whose research expertise provides students a wide variety of research experiences. The highly-rigorous undergraduate program prepares graduates to be competitive in top graduate programs or for employment. The PhD program and the thesis Master’s degree blend demanding coursework with cutting-edge research to prepare graduates for jobs in academia, industry, and government labs. Our programs emphasize core academic competency and research excellence.

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is the study of the material world. Its historical mission was to push the boundaries of superlatives: the smallest subatomic particle, the quickest time interval, the most precise measurement, the most perplexing of unexplained phenomena.

In the 21st century, these challenges are augmented with a need to understand how particles interact under extreme conditions or complex situations. For instance, we seek to fulfill the promise of nanotechnology, quantum technologies and quantum degenerate gases, computational simulation, and biophysical understanding.


is the study of the universe from the size scales of planets to the ultimate size scale of all. It encompasses the risks of meteor impacts, the intricate ballet of planetary systems, and the warping of spacetime near a black hole.

The WSU Department of Physics and Astronomy aims to prepare young scientists for careers in these and related areas. We offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees for students that aspire to the challenge of pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge. Please explore these pages to find out more about our laboratories, programs, and internationally respected faculty.