Jun 08, 2023  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]


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Dr. Christina Keller, Program Director
Dr. Yongchen Sun, Graduate Director
Akeley-Lawrence, Room 201
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: (605) 677-5649




Christina Keller, Program Director of Physics, Ph.D., North Dakota State University. Specialization: Condensed Matter Physics and Physics Education.

Associate Professor:

Dongming Mei, Ph.D., University of Alabama, Specialization: Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics and Astroparticle Physics.
Yongchen Sun, Ph.D., Montana State University-Bozeman. Specialization: Laser Spectroscopy, Condensed Matter Physics.

 Assistant Professor:

Joel Sander, Ph.D., University of California-Santa Barbara, Nuclear and Particle Physics
Ryan Martin, Ph.D, Queens University, Nuclear and Particle Physics

Visiting Assistant Professor:

Muhammed Khizar, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Optoelectronics

Research Assistant Professor:

Chao Zhang, Ph.D, Institute of High Energy Physics, Beijing, Nuclear and Particle Physics


Master of Science in Physics
Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

Program Description

The graduate programs in Physics will prepare students for a variety of career paths, including positions in academia, industry and at national labs. While degree candidates may pursue specialized research foci based on the research expertise of individual faculty members, the most significant goal of the program is to focus on research areas germane to the needs and special resources of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF).  Examples of specialized research areas connected to SURF include nuclear/particle physics and particle astrophysics involving next-generation neutrino detection; double beta-decay, dark matter searches and gravitational wave detection experiments, as well as condensed matter physics concentrating on novel low background radiation materials and devices.  


The following items have to be submitted by students who apply:

  • Completed application
  • Three letters of recommendation from parent institution instructors
  • General GRE scores
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended (Applicants must have at least a 3.0(B) grade point average in their undergraduate work.)
  • International students should refer to the Graduate School policy for language requirements.

Applicants must have completed a baccalaureate or master’s degree in physics. However, with permission of the graduate program, those who have not completed a baccalaureate or master’s degree in physics may be admitted on a provisional basis. Students must complete the non-elective required courses for the undergraduate physics major (a year of calculus-based physics to include PHYS 421, PHYS 431, PHYS 441, PHYS 451, and PHYS 471) at USD or demonstrate competence in those areas through some other mechanism prior to beginning graduate coursework.


A limited number of graduate assistantships are awarded each year on a competitive basis to fully admitted, full-time, on-campus MS and PhD students. Applications for graduate assistantships are due on February 1.


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