Apr 23, 2021  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog

Physics Department

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Yongchen Sun, Chair
201 Akeley-Lawrence Science Center
(605) 677-5649




Dongming Mei, Nuclear Physics, Astrophysics

Associate Professors:

Jing Liu, Nuclear Physics, Astrophysics
Joel Sander, Particle Physics, Astrophysics
Yongchen Sun, Laser Spectroscopy, Condensed Matter Physics

Assistant Professors:

Wenqin Xu, Nuclear and Particle Physics


Vernon McBride, Laboratory Coordinator

Emeritus Faculty:

Christina Keller, Condensed Matter Physics


Physics B.S.


Applied Physics



Physicists are relationship experts. It’s their job to explore one of the most fundamental relationships of all - the one between matter and energy. Physicists help us understand the world at its most fundamental level, from the smallest particles to the universe itself. These fundamental ideas underlie all of the basic sciences, and are invaluable in applied science and engineering disciplines.

Students majoring in physics at USD take a traditional undergraduate physics curriculum that requires courses in classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, supplemented with electives in a broad range of physics subfields. Our home in the College of Arts and Sciences imbues the program with the rich tradition of the liberal arts. Students graduating with a B.S. in physics are expected to speak and write well, possess critical thinking skills, and have an interdisciplinary perspective that will serve them well in all aspects of their lives.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility located in western South Dakota provides undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to become involved in research activities probing cutting edge questions in physics such as the nature of dark matter. A new specialization in applied physics will provide students with practical experience in producing materials used in producing radiation detectors.

Physics has broad applications in a number of fields and physics grads are in demand in a variety of occupations.  USD’s physics graduates have continued on in graduate programs in physics, chemistry, and mathematics; have entered medical and law schools; and have found employment in industry.


Please contact the department for additional information about available scholarships and awards. Also see College of Arts & Sciences  for college/school level scholarships.

  • G.I. Moller Scholarship
  • Robert L. Adams Astronomy Award



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