A physics professor teaching a small class of 6 students


For more than a century, the Department of Physics has attracted some of the nation's top scholars. Students build a strong foundation in nuclear physics, astrophysics and biophysics while studying advanced concepts, from quantum mechanics to optics. They also collaborate with faculty and partner institutions to understand the building blocks of life, observe exploding stars in distant galaxies and detect subatomic particles at the core of matter.

Study in the physical sciences at the George Washington University goes back to the founding of the Columbian College in 1821. Officially founded in 1912, the department has been a leader in scientific breakthroughs ever since, including hosting the historical 1939 conference at which Nobel Prize Winner Niels Bohr announced that Otto Hahn had successfully split the atom, thus ushering in the atomic age. Department faculty have included renowned scientists such as George Gamow, early developer and advocate of the big bang theory, and Edward Teller, famed for his work on the hydrogen bomb. 

Today, the department carries on the practice of excellent research at state-of-the-art labs in Corcoran Hall and Science and Engineering Hall on GW's Foggy Bottom Campus. Faculty regularly secure competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, NASA and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. In the lab and in the classroom, the department is applying physics solutions to everyday life.


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George Sangiolo

George Sangiolo

BS '18, Biophysics

“GW has a diverse population. The student body comes from very different backgrounds. Even if your idea of fun is running computer modeling cell movement simulations, here you can find your tribe.”

Famous GW Physicists

Aerial image of the Jefferson Lab's accelerator, a large machine surrounded by wires and scaffolding

Physics Collaboration Seeks to Shed Light on Particle Formation

GW researchers from the Physics Department are leading an international collaboration to expand capabilities at a U.S. Department of Energy national accelerator laboratory and provide opportunities for student researchers.
Neil Johnson sitting at a desk with papers in front of him

Cross-Disciplinary Research to Quantify Evolution, Spread of Misinformation

Physics professor Neil Johnson and his collaborator Yonatan Lupu have been awarded a three-year, $1.86 million grant from the Department of Defense to study how misinformation spreads between groups and across social media platforms.
Senior physics major Ujwal Kumar (right) and biology major Alison Pagalilauan

Getting Creative: Student Research in the Virtual Learning Environment

For physics major Ujwal Kumar, the COVID pandemic turned everything upside down — including his astrophysics research on gamma ray bursts. But thanks in part to CCAS' STEM Summer Research Program, Kumar found creative ways to continue his research remotely.
A diagram showing red and blue lines indicating hate speech patterns from Facebook, VKontakte (VK), and White Genocide SA

Novel Mapping Model Tracks How Hate Spreads and Adapts Online

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Jack Hirschman

Student Project Leads to International Collaborations

Jack Hirschman was awarded a GW Distinguished Scholar award for his progress on field programmable gate arrays. Hirschman built a test detector, which led to international collaboration and work in Israel and Switzerland.