In the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Hofstra University, students begin by exploring the foundation of physics before moving on to courses in modern physics, mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics. Beginning in sophomore or junior years, about half of our majors elect to participate in research programs or advanced projects within our department continuously until graduation. The department presently has eight full-time faculty members and 25-30 physics majors.

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Mission Statement

The Department of Physics and Astronomy seeks to prepare students for the future as professionals and citizens. In addition, the department seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge in physics and astronomy, and to serve the community through education, outreach, and research.

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Goals and Learning Objectives

Learn about the goals and learning objectives of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Meet the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


Faculty Research Areas


Examples of faculty research interests:

  • Early-universe cosmology (Bochner)
  • High-energy physics and string theory (Burrington)
  • Superconductors, semiconductors, and topological insulators (Durst)
  • Gravitational waves, formation and evolution of compact objects, high-energy explosive transients (Gossan)
  • Biophysics (Johnson)
  • Massive star formation and supernova remnants (Lacey)
  • Nova and supernova remnants, light echoes, DEI in STEM (Lawrence)
  • Quantum information and dissipative quantum systems (Levine)
  • Low-temperature experiment: topological and ferromagnetic superconductors (Smylie)

Department News

For more recent news visit Hofstra's news site.

Sarah Gossan, a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was the subject of an “Early Career Scientist Spotlight” on NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center website. She discussed her inspirations (among them, the film Legally Blonde) and her research focus, which she described as “giant space explosions, and the immortal stars they leave behind.”

Professor Emeritus David Cassidy was interviewed by the journal Science about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who served as scientific director for the Manhattan Project. Dr. Cassidy is the author of the 2009 biography J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century

Students at Hofstra’s Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute (CCI) were treated to a special science experiment when Assistant Professor of Chemistry Daniel Miller and Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Matthew Smylie made ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

An international team of astronomers, including Hofstra Professor Stephen Lawrence and alumnus Ali Hyder ‘18, documented a rare “light echo” in the Centaurus A galaxy. Results of the scientists’ five years of research, based on their observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Matthew Smylie, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded a summer fellowship by the Department of Energy’s Visiting Faculty Program. For 10 weeks during the summer, he and his undergraduate research assistant, Jared Dans ’22, will conduct research at Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago, IL.

Smylie said their work is part of the search for a topological superconductor, an as-of-now still theoretical object, proposed to have unique properties  for making a quantum computer. Read more

Jared Dans and Professor Matthew Smylie

Stephen Lawrence, professor of physics and astronomy, was one of an elite group of scientists in North America to be recognized as a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

This accolade honors AAS members for noteworthy service to the organization, original research and publication, innovative contributions to astronomical techniques or instrumentation, and significant contributions to education and public outreach.

A member of the Hofstra faculty since 2001, Professor Lawrence’s research focuses on  ground- and space-based observations of stellar explosions, their remnants and their light echoes.

The MS in Medical Physics launched a co-op program to give students real work experience at healthcare technology firms. The co-op positions are available on Long Island and in the New York metropolitan region.

Hofstra has formed partnerships with Carter, DeLuca, and FarrellRadFormation and Petrone Associates. The co-op positions are paid and offered during normal business hours. They do not conflict with class schedules, so students’ graduation dates will not be delayed if they decide to take on a co-op. Building a professional network and working in a real-world environment provides the students with additional resources and technical skills that will serve them in  future clinical residencies, industrial applications, or academia.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space, and presidential historian Dr. Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race, were the signature speakers for One Giant Leap: Apollo 11 @ 50, a two-day symposium presented by Hofstra University in partnership with the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

This event – held April 2-3, 2019 – also featured Harvard University technology historian Matthew Hersch and guests from the History Channel/A+E Networks who discussed the premiere of an Apollo 11 documentary.

Research by Dr. Ben Burrington, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, was published in the prestigious Journal of High Energy PhysicsDr. Burrington co-authored “The OPE of bare twist operators in bosonic SN orbifold CFTs at large N” with Ian T. Jardine and Amanda W. Peet from the University of Toronto. 

Dr. Burrington says insights from their article on conformal field theory and string theory could be used to study the composition of black holes.

Tuesday 3 October 2017
Hofstra Physics Professor Contributes to Nobel Prize Research Detecting Gravity Waves.

Dr. Brett Bochner, professor of physics and astronomy, contributed to research that won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics while he was a graduate student at MIT in the mid-1990s. He also served as a Hofstra-based consultant for several years afterwards.

Dr. Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), recipient of the Nobel Prize – shared with Dr. Kip Thorne and Dr. Barry Barish of Caltech – was Dr. Bochner’s PhD adviser for more than five years. They served as collaborators in the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) Project.

The main focus of Dr. Bochner’s research was modeling the Dual Recycling configuration of the Advanced LIGO detector, which succeeded at detecting Gravitational Waves (GWs) almost immediately after being turned on in 2015.

Asked to recall his experience working with Dr. Weiss, Dr. Bochner said, “He was an experimentalist, with a single-minded focus on this project. He demanded that his students work very hard and work independently.” Read more here.

See more about Brett Bochner's current research here.

Monday 3 July 2017
Students Attend Summer 2017 Physics/REU Programs

The following students participated in summer 2016 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs:

Ali Hyder (Cornell University, Astrophysics). 

Matt Kallicharran (Brookhaven National Labs, Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics (RHIC) project.)

Monday 5 June 2017
Graduation 2017

Hofstra University graduated 11 students  in 2016-2017 AY with B.S./B.A. degrees in Physics or Applied Physics (the largest class in more than 30 years!)

Laura Bennett*
Pravjit Bhatti
Zuzana Calbo
Kyle Castoria**
Steven Falco
Kelly Fries
Cindy Gomez***
Joseph Miraglia
Richard Myers***
Michael Nino***
Travis Rogowski

*Double major with Biochemistry
**Double major with Engineering
***Double major with Mathematics

Monday 1 May 2017
Recent Research Grant Activity

Dr. Stephen Lawrence and collaborators have an ongoing grant for Hubble Space Telescope time to observe (1) two recent, nearby extragalactic supernova explosions, SN 2014J and SN 2016adj SN 1987A and (2) gaseous debris expelled during three recent nova explosions—Nova T Pyxidis 2011, Nova Monocerotis 2012 and Nova Delphinus 2013.

More information about Stephen Lawrence’s research.

Dr. Christina Lacey and collaborators have four awarded grants to observe (1) radio emission from Galactic supernova explosion remnants using the Jansky Very Large Array and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope and (2 ) two nearby galaxies using the Janksky Very Large Array and (3) the shock created by possible galaxy-wide jets arising from a supermassive black hole in the Whirlpool galaxy’s smaller companion  using  the Jansky Very Large Array and e-Merlin, a European based radio telescope array.

More information about Christina Lacey’s research.

Monday 3 April 2017
Recent Publications by Physics Faculty and Students

Dr. Benjamin Burrington Publishes Research on Conformal Field Theory and String Theory.

Operator mixing in deformed D1-D5 CFT and the OPE on the cover, Burrington, B. A., Jardine, I. T., Peet, A. W., Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP), 06(2017), 1-24.

More information about Ben Burrington’s research.

Dr. Adam Durst and Student Kyle Castoria Publish Research on Semiconductor Physics

Heitler-London model for acceptor-acceptor interactions in doped semiconductors, Durst, A. C., Castoria, K. E., Bhatt, R. N.. Accepted Physical Review B.

Following his graduation from Hofstra in 2017, Kyle Castoria entered the Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University.

More information about Adam Durst’s research.

Dr. Gregory Levine Publishes Research on Quantum Information and (with student Laura Bennett) on the Strength of Surgical Mesh Attachment.

Scaling of entanglement entropy for the Heisenberg model on clusters joined by point contacts, B. A. Friedman and G. C. Levine, Journal of Statistical Physics 165, 727 (2016).

Comparison of the strength of mesh attachment using barbed and non-barbed sutures, M. Pilkinton, G. Levine, L. Bennett, H. Winkler, and P. Finamore, Am. J. of Ob. and Gyn. S565 (2017).

Co-author Laura Bennett is a graduate (2017) of Hofstra College with a double major B.S. in Physics and Biochemistry.

More information about Gregory Levine’s research.

Monday 16 January 2017
Dr. Adam Durst appointed KITP Scholar

Dr. Adam Durst, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for the 2017-2019 Scholar Program at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. KITP, one of the most highly regarded scientific research facilities in the country, brings together theorists in physics and allied fields to work on a broad range of questions arising from investigations at the leading edges of science.

Monday 11 September 2016
Graduate Destinations 2016

Hofstra University graduated five students in 2015-2016 AY with the B.S. in Physics or Applied Sciences.

David Guralnick entered the M.S. program in Robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. (When he graduates, he will join notable alumni Albert Einstein, John von Neumann and Wilhelm Rontgen.)

Zachary Mizrachi entered the Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University.

Mahin Tariq entered the M.S. program in Medical Physics at Hofstra University.

Claire Weaver entered the Ph.D. program in Materials Science at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Charlotte Wood entered the Ph.D. program in Astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame.

Monday 25 July 2016
Recent Publications by Physics Faculty and Students

Dr. Benjamin Burrington Publishes String Theory Research

Bosonization, cocycles, and the D1-D5 CFT on the covering surface
Benjamin A. Burrington, Amanda W. Peet, Ida G. Zadeh
Physical Review D93, 026004 (2016)

Dr. Adam Durst Published Research on Topological Insulators and Superconductivity

Disorder-induced density of states on the surface of a spherical topological insulator
Adam C. Durst
Physical Review B93, 245424 (2016)

Scattering states of a vortex in the proximity-induced superconducting state at the interface of a topological insulator and an s-wave superconductor
Adam C. Durst
Physical Review B93, 064514 (2016)

Dr. Gregory Levine and Student Bassir Caravan* Publish Research on Quantum Information and Gravity
Entanglement temperature and perturbed AdS3 geometry
G. C. Levine and B. Caravan
Physical Review D93, 126002 (2016)

*Bassir Caravan is presently in his second year of M.D. training at NYU School of Medicine.

Honors College Physics/Mathematics Major Michael Nino is Lead Author on Nuclear Physics Research Published in Physical Review

High-precision γ-ray spectroscopy of the cardiac PET imaging isotope 82Rb and its impact on dosimetry
M. N. Nino, E. A. McCutchan, S. V. Smith, C. J. Lister, J. P. Greene, M. P. Carpenter, L. Muench, A. A. Sonzogni, and S. Zhu

Physical Review C93, 024301 (2016)

Monday 25 July 2016
HURCULAES First Light!

The Hofstra University Research Camera for Undergraduate Laboratory Astrophysics and Experimental Science (HURCULAES) system is now running and has recorded "first light" images of several spectacular astrophysical objects. HURCULAES is a high performance CCD telescope camera system set up by faculty mentor, Dr. Stephen Lawrence. With Dr. Lawrence, students Ali Hyder, Travis Rogoski and Mahin Tariq were able to make HURCULAES CCD images of the Orion Nebula (M42), the Horsehead Nebula and Saturn. These color images are stacked from individual black-and-white images through broadband filters that isolate blue, green, and red wavelengths of light, as well as (for the nebulae) narrow-band filters that isolate a green wavelength emitted by doubly-ionized oxygen and and a red wavelength emitted by neutral hydrogen. HURCULAES will mainly be used for student research projects—presently, data is being taken on the light curves of recent supernovas.

Monday 25 July 2016
Astrophysicists Christina Lacey and Stephen Lawrence both Awarded Hubble Space Telescope Grants

Dr. Christina Lacey was granted Hubble Space Telescope General Observer time for the proposal: What Makes Radio-detected and Optically-detected Supernova Remnants in NGC6946 Different? Dr. Lacey's collaboration includes scientists at Eureka Scientific Inc., Johns Hopkins University and Middlebury College.

Dr. Stephen Lawrence was also awarded observing time and grant support by the Space Telescope Science Institute to use the Hubble Space Telescope to undertake studies of the aftermath of stellar explosions. One project focuses on two recent, nearby extragalactic supernova explosions, SN 2014J and SN 2016adj; another project focuses on three recent nova explosions—Nova T Pyxidis 2011, Nova Monocerotis 2012 and Nova Delphinus 2013. Dr. Lawrence's work involves collaborations with scientists from Columbia University and Goucher College.

Monday 6 June 2016
Students Attend Summer REU Programs

The following students participated in summer 2016 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs:

Laura Bennett (University of Pennsylvania, Biophysics)

Zuzana Calbo (Texas A&M University at the Mitchell Institute/Department of Physics and Astronomy, REU in Astronomical research and Instrumentation)

Matt Kallicharran )Brookhaven National Labs, Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics (RHIC) Project)

Travis Rogowski (Cornell University, Astrophysics)

Monday 23 May 2016
Adam Durst Wins 2016 Hofstra University Stessin Prize

Dr. Adam Durst, associate professor of physics, is a theoretical condensed matter physicist, who uses quantum mechanics to study the properties of complex materials. His outstanding publication in the journal Physical Review, which was awarded the Hofstra University Stessin Prize, focuses on the thermal properties of the interface between a high-temperature superconductor (a material that conducts electricity without resistance) and a topological insulator (a new class of material that conducts electricity only on its surface). His work contributes important insights into the relationship between these two exotic states of matter.

This system is a playground for studying the properties of massless Dirac fermions (particles that behave more like ultra-relativistic particles than normal electrons) since they play a role in both the superconductor and the topological insulator. At the interface between the two materials, both roles are on display, and the combined effect is demonstrated in Dr. Durst's calculation of thermal conductivity.

16 November 2015
New Assistant Professor Ben Burrington Publishes String Theory Research in Physical Review

Dr. Ben Burrington is a theoretical physicist, specializing in high energy physics, string theory, and black holes. String theory has led to a realization that, in a certain limit, some field theories are equivalent to gravitational theories. Dr. Burrington, along with researchers from University of Toronto and Brandeis University, has recently used a particular string theory setup to begin to bridge the gap between the two descriptions (published in the journal Physical Review ) A second paper by Burrington and colleagues on a similar topic has also been accepted in Physical Review D.

Monday 16 November 2015
Hofstra Graduate/Adjunct Monday Professor Damon Pappas and Dr. Brett Bochner Publish in The Astrophysical Journal

Professor Brett Bochner is a theoretical astrophysicist, specializing in cosmology and the very early universe. Working in collaboration with students, primarily Hofstra physics major Damon Pappas, a study of Type Ia Supernova data was conducted in order to place bounds on the measurements of the accelerated expansion of the universe. It was found that cosmological parameter estimates remain highly dependent upon which theoretical models are assumed for any given study, thus highlighting the challenges of distinguishing between different possible causes of the acceleration -- whether due to a Cosmological Constant, an evolving Dark Energy, or other sources. The research findings have been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of “The Astrophysical Journal."

Thursday 1 October 2015
Graduate Destinations 2015—Congratulations!

Hofstra University graduated seven students in Spring 2015 with the B.S. in Physics or Applied Physics. Known graduate destinations follow:

  • Daniel Alanko is pursuing an M.D. at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
  • (Femi) Hassan Aliyu has joined the Air Force Officer Training program and hopes to fly the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lighting II.
  • Bassir Caravan is pursuing an M.D. at New York University School of Medicine.
  • Amanda Lesar has joined the Ph.D. Program in Physics at New York University.
  • Jessica Magarinos  is pursuing an M.D. at the College of Medicine-SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
  • Erin Reagan (double major with Biochemistry) will begin the Ph.D. program in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Pennsylvania starting Fall 2016.


Thursday 1 October 2015
MS in Medical Physics Granted CAMPEP Accreditation

The MS in Medical Physics program at Hofstra University has received initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). Achieving accreditation marks an important milestone of public recognition of our program standards, given there are only 50 such accredited programs worldwide (37 within the United States). In 2014 Hofstra/North Shore-LIJ received CAMPEP accreditation of the Therapeutic Medical Physics Residency program. According to the Program Director for these two programs, Dr. Ajay Kapur, “Our recent accreditations place Hofstra/North Shore-LIJ amongst the 1-in-5 institutions that offer both a graduate and residency program in Medical Physics. Achieving this within three years of commencing both programs reflects our commitment to excellence in medical physics education.”

Medical physics focuses on applying physics concepts, theories, and methods to medicine. Medical physicists are dedicated to the safe use of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. Careers in medical physics involve clinical practice, regulatory compliance, patient safety, and research and development in therapeutic, diagnostic, nuclear medicine, and medical health physics applications.

Thursday 1 October 2015
Claire Weaver Awarded SPS Fellowship

Claire Weaver, a senior physics and mathematics major has been named a recipient of the prestigious 2015 Kirsten R. Lorentzen Award from the Society of Physics Students (SPS). She was selected from a pool of high-achieving physics students from institutions across the country. Claire served as President of the Hofstra Chapter of the Society of Physics Students during the 2014-15 academic year.

Thursday 1 October 2015
David Guralnick Places in CPX Competition

Physics/Engineering major David Guralnick was a member of a four person team winning 3rd place in the 2015 Hofstra-CPX Entrepreneurship Competition for their project: The Prometheus Initiative—a project aimed at building and supplying low cost electrical generators to third world countries.  The competition, sponsored by Hofstra University and the CPXi Corporation, awarded Guralnick’s team $10,000 in startup funds for their initiative.

Monday 13 April 2015
New Associate Professor Adam Durst Publishes Superconductivity Research in Physical Review

Dr. Adam Durst's research focuses on the physics of complex materials including superconductors and topological insulators (insulators like Bi2Se3, which have recently been shown to support robust conducting states on their surfaces). In his recent work, he considered, theoretically, the system formed when one deposits a high-Tc cuprate superconductor atop a topological insulator, resulting in a novel superconducting state at the interface, the excitations of which behave more like massless relativistic particles than ordinary electrons. His calculations of low-temperature thermal conductivity in this interface state were recently accepted for publication in Physical Review B (A. C. Durst, Physical Review B 91, 094519 (2015). (Manuscript also posted at:

Charlotte Wood Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Physics Major Charlotte Wood has been invited to join the Hofstra University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Honorees are selected for maintaining an exceptional GPA while taking broad and rigorous coursework in the liberal arts and sciences. She joins three other Physics Department members, Bassir Caravan (B.S. 2015, expected), David Miller (B.S. 2008) and Denise J. LoMonaco, Executive Secretary of the Department of Physics, who have recently received this high honor.

Monday 23 March 2015
Dr. Ajay Kapur Appointed Director of Medical Physics M.S. Program.

Dr. Ajay Kapur has been appointed Program Director of the newly established M.S. Program in Medical Physics.  Dr. Kapur obtained his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Stanford University in 1999 and M.S. in Applied Physics from Columbia University in 1994. He is currently Director of Medical Physics Research and Education and Associate Director of Medical Physics in the Department of Radiation Medicine at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Dr. Kapur was instrumental in the initial design of the Masters program, working in collaboration with the former Chairman of the Physics Department, Dr. Harold Hastings.  Recently, he has submitted the Medical Physics Program application for accreditation to the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). In addition he is Program Director of the Therapeutic Radiological Physics Residency Program at NSLIJHS for which he successfully obtained CAMPEP accreditation in Fall 2014 just two years following the program initiation.  Only 15% of educational institutions in the country offer both CAMPEP accredited graduate programs and residency programs. With successful accreditation of the M.S. program, Hofstra/North Shore-LIJ Hofstra would be in this elite group just within 3 years since the start of the program.

Monday 2 March 2015
Physics Majors to Participate in Summer Research Programs

Four Hofstra physics majors have been accepted to participate in summer research experience programs for 2015.  Cindy GomezMahin Tariq and Claire Weaver will be joining the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research program at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC). Possible projects include fabrication of stretchable and flexible piezoelectric nano-generators that convert mechanical force to electrical current and research on photonic band gap materials. Physics major Charlotte Wood will be participating in an REU program at the University of Oklahoma focused on astrophysics.

Tuesday 10 February 2015
Hofstra Graduate Emma Kast Named as Finalist for Hertz Fellowship

Hofstra graduate Emma Kast (Chemistry/Physics BS 2014) is one of 50 finalists for the 2015 Hertz Fellowship. Ms. Kast is presently in the Geosciences PhD program at Princeton University.

Monday 2 February 2015
2015 Hofstra Physics Department Scholarships Awarded

Claire Weaver is the recipient of the James A. Moore Endowed Memorial Award for the 2014-2015 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to a student, majoring in Physics, with the highest quality performance excelling in course work, individual research and service to the Physics community as recommended by the faculty of the Physics and Astronomy Department. 

Daniel Alanko was the recipient of the Stanley J. Kendrick Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Physics for the 2014-2015 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to qualified students who demonstrate outstanding qualities of perseverance, academic dedication and effort in Physics. 

Charlotte Wood was the recipient of the Harold E. Clearman Memorial Award for the 2014-2015 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in Physics who has achieved meritorious performance in coursework, along with an outstanding individual research project, as recommended by the faculty of the Physics and Astronomy Department.

Monday 20 October 2014
Hofstra Graduate Matt Vuolo and Dr. Christina Lacey Publish in Astronomical Journal

Associate Professor Dr. Christina Lacey worked with former Hofstra undergraduate physics major Matt Vuolo studying very compact star formation regions that are located in a nearby galaxy called NGC 247. Measuring the internal absorption of these compact regions at radio wavelengths allowed Dr. Lacey and Matt Vuolo estimate the density of gas and the number of massive stars that are forming from this gas. The research findings were recently published in the Astronomical Journal  (Lacey, C. K., Vuolo, M., and Schultz, S., 2014, Astronomical Journal, 147, 64.)

Monday 13 October 2014
Hofstra Undergraduate Bassir Caravan and Dr. Gregory Levine Publish in Physical Review

Undergraduate physics major Bassir Caravan was first author on a recent paper in Physical Review A (with Dr. Gregory Levine, Hofstra, and Dr. Barry Friedman, SHSU) on the subject of quantum entanglement entropy in the Bethe lattice. This work examines the effect of energy degeneracies on the entropy-area law for fermions. (”Scaling of entanglement entropy in a point contact free fermion system,” Bassir Caravan, BA Friedman and G. C. Levine, Physical Review A 89, 052305, 2014).