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.


Connect With Our Community

“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.”

George Sangiolo
BS '18, Biophysics

George Sangiolo


GW Physics News

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Novel Mapping Model Tracks How Hate Spreads and Adapts Online

A team of GW researchers led by Neil Johnson is studying hate on social media. The latest findings outline the challenges to dismantling online hate groups worldwide.

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Student Project Leads to International Collaborations

Jack Hirschman was awarded a GW Distinguished Scholar award for his progress on field programmable gate arrays.

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Student Innovation Shines at Research Days 2019

Eric Boulter, a junior majoring in astrophysics and music, is using virtual reality technology to bring the solar system to life. Wearing a headset, users can stand among the stars and study how...

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Not Just Another Science Class

Members of the GW chapter of the Society of Physics Students share their passion for learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshops with local children.

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Supernovae Shine Light on Gamma-ray Bursts

New deep space observations by Professor of Astrophysics Chryssa Kouveliotou and an international team of scientists provided insights into Gamma-ray bursts and...

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Simpler Parts Make for a More Efficient System

Professor Neil Johnson explored decentralized systems in a new paper. His research has the potential to inform everything from how to effectively structure a company to...

Alumni Class Notes 2019

Giovanni Angelini, MS ’18, is analyzing data obtained by the CLAS12 collaboration (Jlab) related to the strong nuclear force for his PhD. Soon he is going to present his results...