Queen's University


Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy


Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

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Our Department

The Department of Physics at Queen's University is one of Canada's leading teaching and research institutes in Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy. Our faculty include high-profile, world-class physicists who work on cutting edge areas of theoretical, computational, applied and experimental physics.

Our students have the opportunity to engage in international collaboration as well as inter-disciplinary research with other departments at Queen's, and work in state-of-the-art laboratories.

  • Dr. Art McDonald is the co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics!

    Congratulations to professor emeritus Arthur McDonald, the co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics!

    The announcement, made Tuesday morning by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, said Dr. McDonald won the award, along with Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, "for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities". The discovery changed “our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe,” added the committee.

    Dr. McDonald arrived at Queen’s in 1989 and served as the director of SNO. He has been a professor emeritus since 2013. He earned his PhD in 1969 from the California Institute of Technology.

    For the full story, please see Queen's Gazette.
    Background image: Roy Kaltschmidt from LBL

  • Jennifer Mauel, a student in Queen's University Physics Programme

    Photo of Jennifer Mauel (left), a student in Queen's University's Physics programme who completed a summer internship working at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, in 2015. In the background is the famous Heidelberg Castle.

    Photo of the GIOVE detector (right) set-up at the Max Planck Institute. Jennifer investigated techniques to improve the shield of the GIOVE high-purity germanium detector. GIOVE is used for material screening for rare-event experiments such as GERDA and XENON, and is capable of achieving sub-mBq/kg sensitivities at a mere depth of 15m water equivalent.

  • Gerry Angelatos is the first student to complete the Elite Accelerated Master's Degree

    Gerry Angelatos successfully defends his master’s degree one year early, as the first student to complete our elite Accelerated Master’s program in Engineering Physics.

    Gerry completed his Master’s in the group of Prof. S. Hughes, studying light-matter interactions in nanowire photonic crystals, and his research work led to a series of high impact journal publications. As an undergraduate, the accelerated master’s students begin a research project in the summer of their 3rd year undergraduate degree, and complete two graduate courses on top of their undergraduate courses. Following their undergraduate degree, they then have the chance to complete a Master’s degree one year early. Gerry officially started his Master’s in May 2014 and defended his thesis work late August, 2015.

    Gerry is now off to Princeton for his PhD and we wish him well. Way to go Gerry!

  • Physics Professor James Fraser

    Professor James Fraser from the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy is honoured with 2015 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award for outstanding influence on the quality of student learning.

    "When I look at past recipients, I’m looking at real innovators who’ve had a real impact on teaching. It provides me with an appreciation of what we’re able to do as teachers and also what more we can accomplish moving forward.”—Prof. Fraser

    For the full story: Queen's Gazette

    Photo: courtesy of Queen's Gazette

  • Massive Binary Star called epsilon Lupi discovered by Matt Shultz

    PhD candidate Matt Shultz discovers the first massive binary star, epsilon Lupi, in which both stars have magnetic fields.

    "The origin of magnetism amongst massive stars is something of a mystery, and this discovery may help to shed some light on the question of why these stars have magnetic fields." —Shultz

    For more information on the discovery: Queen's Gazette

    For publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

    Image: Yellow lines indicate the magnetic field lines from the stellar surfaces.
    Visualization courtesy of Volkmar Holzwarth, KIS, Freiburg

  • New Model of Gas Giant Plantet Formation in the Early Solar System

    Prof. Martin Duncan from the Queen's University Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and his team members from Southwest Research Institute have published their work in Nature, explaining how the cores of the gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn formed through the accumulation of centimetre - meter sized "pebbles".

    "It is a relief, after many years of performing computer simulations of the standard model without success, to find a new model that is so successful."
    —Prof. Duncan

    Featured story: Queen's Gazette,  Nature publication: Growing the gas-giant planets by the gradual accumulation of pebbles

    Image Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Prof. Chen and Prof. Wright from the Physics department are research award winners.

    The winners of provincial funding of $16 million was announced by Kingston and the Islands MPP, Sophi Kiwala (centre). 
    Congratulations to Prof. Chen (third from right), and Prof. Wright (fourth from right, back row) who were among the recipients. Prof. Chen is among four recipients of Ontario Research Fund - Large Infrastructure Awards to share $12.4 million. Prof. Wright is among the five recipients of Early Researcher Award, receiving $140,000.
    For more information, visit Queen's Gazette.

    (Photo: Queen's Gazette)

  • Dr. John Weymouth

    Congratulations to Dr. Alfred John Weymouth (a graduate of the Queen's University Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) who was honored with the 2015 Gerhard Ertl Young Investigator Award.

    For more information, please see
    http://www.wochenblatt.de/bildung/regensburg/uni-regensburg/Auszeichnung-fuer-Regensburger-Physiker;art12383,297115 (in German) or http://www.journals.elsevier.com/surface-science-including-surface-science-letters/awards

  • Physics graduate student, Cara (Chenman) Yin, wins 3MT People's Choice Award

    Congratulations to Cara Yin (Physics Graduate Student) for winning the People's Choice Award at the national 3MT competition for her presentation, "Seeing the World at the Tip of a Laser Beam".

    " By the time of the Queen's finals, I was more confident about what I had to say in that three minutes. And I am very lucky to have family, friends and the Queen's physics department to cheer me on which really calmed me...Winning the national People's Choice Award was a nice surprise. I should thank those who used social media like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. I am very grateful for the whole 3MT experience and highly encourage other graduate students to participate in future years." --Cara 

    Please visit online Queen's Gazette for the full story.

    Photo: Queen's Gazette


  • 2015 CFI Funding Recipients

    Congratulations to Professor Mark Chen (bottom right) who receives close to $2 million in 2015 CFI (Canadian Foundation for Innovation) research grant. Part of the grant will be used to make upgrades to SNO+, a very powerful and sensitive instrument for researching subatomic particles.

    " An upgraded SNO+ detector highly increases the potential for a transformative discovery in particle astrophysics which would cement Canada’s position as a global leader in this field. We’re also looking forward to engaging with Canadian companies in the high-purity chemical process industry, as well as training highly qualified personnel in areas such as materials purification, nuclear technology and the processing of large data sets." -Professor Mark Chen

    For the full story please visit Queen's Gazette
    (photo: Queen's Gazette)

  • Magnetosphere of a massive star

    Matt Shultz, a PhD student, under the supervision of Prof. Gregg Wade is researching magnetic, massive stars, and has uncovered questions concerning the behaviour of plasma within their magnetospheres.

    "All massive stars have winds: supersonic outflows of plasma driven by the stars’ intense radiation. When you put this plasma inside a magnetic field you get a stellar magnetosphere. Since the 1980s, theoretical models have generally found that the plasma should escape the magnetosphere in sporadic, violent eruptions called centrifugal breakout events, triggered when the density of plasma grows beyond the ability of the magnetic field to contain. However, no evidence of this dramatic process has yet been observed, so the community has increasingly been calling that narrative into question...We now need to go back and look more closely at the full range of diffusive mechanisms and plasma instabilities. There are plenty to choose from: the real challenge is developing the theoretical tools that will be necessary to test them."

    For more information on Matt Schultz' research:
    Queen's Gazette

    Photo: Richard Townsend

  • Professor Robert Knobel gives an interview with CKWS news on the opening day of Kingston Nano-Fabrication Laboratory (KNFL)

    Professor Robert Knobel gives an interview with CKWS news on the opening day of Kingston Nano-Fabrication Laboratory (KNFL).

    For the full story, please click http://www.queensu.ca/gazette/stories/advancing-tiny-technology

    Photo: Anne Craig, Queen's Gazette

  • Jennifer Campbell speaks at the opening of Kingston Nano-Fabrication Laboratory (KNFL)

    Jennifer Campbell speaks at the opening of Kingston Nano-Fabrication Laboratory (KNFL).

    For the full story, please click http://www.queensu.ca/gazette/stories/advancing-tiny-technology

    Photo: Anne Craig, Queen's Gazette

  • Prizes for Excellence in Research Public Lectures

    Congratulations to Professor Stephen Hughes (far left) who won one of the prizes for Excellence in Research in April 2015.
    (Image courtesy of the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research)

  • Chenman Yin wins 3MT Final Promotion!

    Our very own graduate student, Chenman (Cara) Yin, the only finalist from Physics in the 3 Minute Thesis Final Promotion was this year's winner! She went on to represent  Queen's University for the Ontario 3MT in April 2015. Our most sincere congratulations and all the best of success to you!

    For her exciting win:  http://www.thewhig.com/2015/03/24/student-gets-point-across-laser-quick
    For more details on her research:  http://www.queensu.ca/sgs/shine-light-3mt-champ-shows-potential-laser-beams-making-surgery-safer

    (Photo: the Whig-Standard)

  • Dalton Kellet at the wheel

    Dalton Kellet, who studied Engineering Physics student in the Department and signed a one year contract with Andretti Autosport in 2015, gives a thumbs up.

    “As a racecar driver and engineering student, I am in a unique and challenging situation. My experience in racing has helped foster my interest in engineering, while the skills learned at Queen’s enable me to bring more potential when working with race engineers to develop a fast car. I came to Queen’s interested in the Engineering Physics program, attracted by the focus on fundamental mathematical and physics concepts. The program’s rigorous and challenging nature has helped me improve time-management skills and taught me to work with a greater efficiency.” — Dalton Kellet

    For more on this exciting story, click here. (Photo © Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

  • Dalton Kellet's drive

    Dalton Kellet, who studied Engineering Physics in the Department of Physics and signed a one year contract with Andretti Autosport in 2015, races to the finish line.
    For more on this exciting story, click here. (Photo © Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

  • Dalton Kellet with his coach

    Dalton Kellet, who studied Engineering Physics in the Department of Physics and signed a one year contract with Andretti Autosport in 2015, celebrates his third place finish! For more on this exciting story, click here. (Photo © Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

  • Professor Gilles Gerbier being awarded the CERC from the Right Honorable Ed Holder

    Professor Gilles Gerbier receives the CERC award from the Right Honorable Ed Holder (Minister of State: Science and Technology). (Photo courtesy of Professor​ Stephane Courteau, Dept. of Physics, Queen's University)

  • Dr.Professor

    Professor Gerbier speaks at the CERC Announcement at Richardson Hall on September 26, 2014. ​(Photo courtesy of Professor Stephane Courteau, Dept. of Physics, Queen's University)

  • Physics Graduate Students at the CERC Reception for Professor Gilles Gerbier.

    Physics graduate students and faculty attend the CERC reception for Professor Gilles Gerbier. ​(Photo courtesy of Professor Stephane Courteau, Dept. of Physics, Queen's University)

  • SNOLAB researchers, Ed Holder (MP), Principal Daniel Woolf, with Professor Gilles Gerbier

    From left to right: Professor Emeritus Art McDonald, Professor Mark Boulay, Professor Wolfgang Rau, Right Honorable Ed Holder, Professor Gilles Gerbier, Principal Daniel Woolf, Professor Tony Noble and Professor Philippe di Stefano. ​(Photo courtesy of Professor Stephane Courteau, Dept. of Physics, Queen's University)