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Physics is the study of the behavior of matter, space, time, and fields. Using highly sophisticated experimental and mathematical techniques, physicists gather detailed measurements of phenomena—from the largest scales involving the entire universe to the smallest scales involving the most fundamental particles—to construct theories that explain and predict how the universe and the things in it behave.

Learn more about the University of Washington Physics Department from the: Fact Sheet, 2018 self-study


The Department of Physics educates students at all levels from general education, through preparation for teaching and scientific careers, to doctoral and post-doctoral education. The department encourages the involvement of undergraduates in research; currently more than 180 undergraduates participate in research within the department.


The interests of physicists range from determining the fundamental nature of space, time, particles, and fields in the universe, to understanding the collective behavior of many particles, from nuclei to nanostructures to living cells to neutron stars. Current work in our department is so broad it's hard to summarize, and always evolving. Check out our research pages for more details!


The Department of Physics has 56 faculty. 49 of the faculty are research active and 7 anchor the instructional programs of the department. The Department is home to 34 research associates. Faculty and emeritus faculty honors include:

  • 2 Nobel Laureates*
  • 8 Members of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 8 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 1 Wolf Prize recipient

* includes Nobel Prize recipient Hans Dehmelt, who died in 2017


For many years the Physics Education Group in the Department of Physics has offered programs for pre-service and in-service physics teachers to improve their understanding of physics and master effective strategies for helping students learn fundamental physics concepts.  Programs are offered both during the academic year, and during the summer.