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Kieran Holland
Department Chair
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211


Physics Department Research Areas

Photograph by Despina Chatzifotiadou, March 30, 2010) Particle tracks fly out from one of the first collisions at 7 TeV (seven trillion electronvolts) at the Large Hadron Collider. An active galaxy










The faculty in the Physics Department at the University of the Pacific are internationally recognised researchers in their fields of study. Links to their publications can be found on their individual webpages (see the Directory), and they are invited to give presentations on their work at conferences around the world each year.

The Department has, presently, three primary areas of research

Particle Physics and Lattice Gauge Theory 

This is a branch of particle physics in which the mathematics of the quantum nature of subatomic particles is formulated in a way that enables the equations to be solved by computers. Students working on research projects with this group will learn and use various areas of knowledge, particularly including:

  • quantum field theory (relativistic quantum mechanics)
  • sophisticated mathematics—both abstract areas such as topology and group theory (the mathematics of symmetry), as well as applied methods such as linear algebra, umerical analysis, and statistics.
  • computer science and programming—using some of the largest and fastest computers in the world.
  • advanced data analysis, on "Big Data" sets

Professors Juge, Holland, and Hetrick have been awarded a large grant National Science Foundation to carry out investigations in lattice gauge theory.You can find out more about Pacific's lattice gauge theorists from this article

Extragalactic Astronomy

This is a branch of astronomy that studies the physics of galaxies: how they form, how they grow, their demographics, their components... Professor Flohic studies one component of galaxies: the supermassive black hole at their center. The gravitational influence of the black hole does not extend far within the galaxy, yet these black holes seem to influence their host galaxy on very large scales and they regulate the growth of the galaxy.

Students studying supermassive black holes will gain experience with

  • radiation processes
  • general relativity
  • spectroscopy
  • data analysis (time-domain analysis, big data analysis)
  • computer programming


Quantum Gravity

Quantum gravity is a search for a theory that can combine quantum mechanics and general relativity. When these two theories are fused, bizarre effects such as black holes turning into radiating objects (black holes are not so black after all!) result--known as Hawking radiation. However we really need to think outside the box to even begin writing down a model which could integrate gravity with all the other fundamental forces.

Professor Basu's work focuses on black holes and holography in models of gravity, which try to extend general relativity to make it stable at very very high energies where the other forces are expected to be described by one master theory. We expect that general relativity will be modified at these extreme energies, and scientists have proposed several models describing what those modifications may entail. Prof. Basu's approach is to probe the thermodynamics (e.g. the Hawking radiation) of black holes in these modified scenarios.



Undergraduate Involvement

We offer rigorous undergraduate research opportunities in these areas, as well as other projects. Such hands-on learning is exciting and challenging, motivating students to pursue lifelong learning. In addition to research opportunities here at Pacific, we also have a large network of research colleagues at other institutes worldwide, and can arrange for summer internships beyond our campus.

Doing research as an undergraduate immerses our students in the kind of out-of-the-box, interdisciplinary thinking that is needed for successful careers as innovative scientists. For those going on to graduate programs, research experience as an undergraduate, jumpstarts their study so that they arrive with the skills needed to begin advanced research right away.