History of the Department of Physics

Instruction in physics was first offered at the University of Nevada in 1887, followed by the formal organization of the Department of Physics as an academic unit in 1907. A Ph.D. program in physics was established in 1961, with additional options initiated in atmospheric physics in 1968 and chemical physics in 1992.

Traditionally, as part of a land-grant university, a major component of the Department of Physics' instructional mission has been to underpin the other sciences, mathematics and engineering. The implementation of the university's core curriculum in the 1990's broadened that mission and marked a period of substantial growth, particularly of the Department's research enterprise. A milestone in the development of the Department of Physics was the dedication of the Nevada Terawatt Facility by Senator Harry Reid in 2000.

The Department of Physics at The University of Nevada is a small department by enrollment but operates a large enterprise in terms of research and "service" education for engineering and other science departments. The department is one of the leaders of the university in external grant funding and teaches hundreds of students from other disciplines every semester. The department is proud of the fact that students at all levels are encouraged to become involved in research and many undergraduates have publication before graduation.