APS Bridge Program

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

Program Contacts:

Pui Lam, Department Chair

Pui Lam


Eric Szarmes, Associate Chair and Graduate Chair

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawai'i offers both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics in addition to the B.S. in Physics, B.S. in Astrophysics, B.A in Physics, and B.A. in Astronomy degrees. The graduate program in astronomy is administered separately by the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai'i. The 17 full-time graduate faculty members in Physics are joined by several affiliate faculty members to present a balanced program of teaching and research. The major research areas are elementary particle physics, theoretical and experimental particle astrophysics, free-electron lasers, and condensed matter physics, with combined annual external funding of several million dollars.

The Department is part of the College of Natural Sciences. The Department is housed in Watanabe Hall, named in honor of former senior professor of physics, Kenichi Watanabe. It is an exceptionally well-designed four-story building with space for administration, faculty, post-doc, and student offices; for classrooms; and for research and teaching laboratories. The Physics Graduate Student Association occupies the Physics Learning Center on the fourth floor of the department. The laboratories are located in the central core of the building, with the offices for staff and graduate assistants on the outermost sides of the building. The department houses a large machine shop, an electronic service area, a free-electron laser, darkrooms, and study and conference rooms, giving a combined useable area of 3,400 square meters. The department also maintains additional space for research and teaching laboratories in the adjacent Physical Sciences Building.

The National Research Council (NRC) 2010 ranking of graduate programs placed the UH Mānoa physics department among the top 12 in the United States – alongside stellar programs such as those at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and Princeton, all several times larger than UH Mānoa's. This ranking was due in large part to very high marks for the fraction of faculty with research grants, for productivity in terms of scientific publications per faculty member, and for citations per publication. UH Mānoa physics has continued to rank highly in later NRC surveys.

UH Mānoa is a culturally diverse institution of higher learning, and this diversity permeates all areas of the campus including the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Our faculty have worked in collaboration with the UH SEED program (Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity) to sponsor students in undergraduate research projects, thus encouraging them to pursue graduate work, and our faculty regularly engage in outreach to local schools. More directly, our international research collaborations attract a large number of foreign applicants to our graduate program, which adds to the diversity in the department – of the roughly 40 graduate students in physics, typically one-third come from outside the U.S. Also, about 30% of our graduate students are women. The number of graduate students and doctoral degrees in our department have grown in recent years, and we expect our partnership with the APS Bridge Program will provide unique opportunities for URM students to pursue their PhDs in physics, and greatly benefit graduate experience for all of our students.