Sep 20, 2019  
2010-2011 Denver Campus Catalog 
2010-2011 Denver Campus Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Chair: Mary Coussons-Read, Interim Chair
Program Assistant: Dawn Arge
Office: North Classroom, 3801
Telephone: 303-556-8344
Fax: 303-556-6257
Web site:


Martin E. Huber, PhD, Stanford University
Martin M. Maltempo, PhD, Columbia University
Alberto C. Sadun, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Associate Professor:
Randall P. Tagg, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Assistant Professors:
John M. Carlson, PhD, University of Michigan
Emily A. Gibson, PhD, University of Colorado
Emeritus Professors:
Willard R. Chappell, PhD, University of Colorado
Clyde S. Zaidins, PhD, California Institute of Technology


Physics, as the most fundamental of the sciences, is the base on which many other disciplines rest. Therefore, knowledge of the fundamentals of physics is often required in other programs, and a physics degree is an outstanding platform for employment and advanced study in many technical disciplines. The department offers both a course of study fulfilling the bachelor of science degree and a wide range of service courses for students majoring in disciplines other than physics. Students intending to major in physics should have a high school background that includes trigonometry, advanced algebra, chemistry and physics, as well as a good preparation in the arts and humanities. Students have an option during their freshman year to overcome some deficiencies in these areas.

The Department of Physics offers various programs of study, or tracks, tailored to the specific career goals of its majors. Students should consult with a departmental advisor prior to choosing a track. Track 1—Pure and Applied Physics is intended for students preparing for graduate school, teaching careers, or careers in industry or government labs. Track 2—Biophysics and Medical Physics is seen as a bridge to an advanced degree in the health sciences for those interested in medical research, admission to medical school, preparation for work in a hospital or clinical situation, or industrial jobs in biomedical instrumentation. For any track, students preparing for employment in an interdisciplinary area (such as environmental, geophysical or energy study) can choose to add an appropriate minor or arrange a specific major program on an individual basis.

Students interested in teaching physics in high school are encouraged to consider the CLAS educational studies minor  in addition to their physics major. Students in other disciplines have the option of choosing a minor in physics or in astrophysics. The department now also offers an online certificate in the scientific foundations of technical innovation , both at undergraduate and graduate levels. This 12-semester-hour program is intended to foster careers in the practical application of physics and the potential commercialization of new technologies. 

To enhance the employment and postgraduate study options of physics majors, the department is committed to providing students with opportunities for experimental, computational and theoretical research. On-campus opportunities are available through the faculty research programs, or the department will assist interested physics majors in locating off-campus opportunities at a government or industrial laboratory. Questions regarding physics courses or the physics curriculum should be directed to a departmental advisor. Appointments should be made through the physics office.


Departmental Honors

Qualified students are encouraged to participate in the physics honors program. For these students, a senior thesis is required. This work will be conducted under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The topic and scope of this work will be chosen by the student in consultation with the thesis advisor. The student has the option of registering for up to 3 semester hours of independent study for the thesis project; regardless of registered semester hours, the student should commit the effort equivalent to a 3-semester-hour laboratory course toward completion of the thesis. The levels of passing scores are satisfactory, meritorious and excellent.

Within this framework, three levels of honors are awarded by the Downtown Campus:

  1. Cum laude: The student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 both in physics and overall at UC Denver. The student’s senior thesis and presentation must be judged to be meritorious by the committee.
  2. Magna cum laude: The student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 both in physics and overall at UC Denver. The student’s senior thesis and presentation must be judged to be meritorious by the committee.
  3. Summa cum laude: The student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 both in physics and overall at UC Denver. The student’s senior thesis and presentation must be judged to be excellent by the committee. 

Physics Minors




Scientific Foundations of Technical Innovation 



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