About the Department
The Department of Physics at Harvard is large and diverse. With 10 Nobel Prize winners (see above) to its credit, the distinguished faculty of today engages in teaching and research that spans the discipline and defines its borders, and as a result Harvard is consistently one of the top-ranked physics departments in the nation.
The Department's greatest resources are the people that fill its classrooms, labs, and offices, as well as state-of-the-art facilities and an outstanding onsite research library. For undergraduate concentrators, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers, Harvard features a complete range of opportunities to engage in world-class physics from theoretical to the experimental.
Research in the Department seeks to explore and explain fundamental questions that range from understanding the origin of the universe, including string theory, cosmology, and astrophysics, to understanding the visible world of colloids and the invisible world on an ever diminishing scale, from the mesoscale to the nanoscale, condensed matter, atomic and molecular and particle physics.
Faculty have established several research centers on campus, including:
- Center for Ultracold Atoms (CUA)
- Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS)
- Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA)
- Institute for Theoretical Atomic and Molecular Physics (ITAMP)
- Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology (LPPC)
- Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC)
- Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC)
- Rowland Institute
Several collaborations and projects are also being carried out by Physics Department faculty and graduate students at centers outside of Cambridge: the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; the CERN in Geneva; the Cornell Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory; the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; the Lawrence Livermore National Lab; the Soudan Mines in Northern Minnesota; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Research in the Department is frequently interdisciplinary in nature thus the Department has strong links to the: Astronomy, Biophysics, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology departments. The Department shares a particularly close relationship with the Division of Engineering and Applied Science where crosscutting research in computational physics, electrical engineering and nanotechnology is ongoing.
The Harvard Physics Department also has a close relationship with MIT which is perhaps best represented by the Harvard/MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms.
With more than 50 affiliated faculty members and 170 graduate students and 230 undergraduates the Physics Department has a lively intellectual environment, and emphasis is placed on teaching and preparing undergraduates to be at the forefront of the next generation of physicists.