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Department of Physics

Department Summary

Professor and Chairman: Stanley F. Radford; Professor: Mohammed Z. Tahar; Associate Professor: Eric M. Monier; Assistant Professor: Zachary R. Robinson

Physics is the study of the physical properties of the universe and of the fundamental properties and interactions of matter and energy. It has applications in every field of pure and applied science, such as engineering, optics, materials science, space science, and medicine. A degree in Physics is excellent preparation for:

  • Graduate study in physics, engineering, astronomy, or mathematics, leading to a career in university and college teaching and research, or a leadership position in industrial or government research projects;
  • Employment as an engineer or technician in an industry, government, or university laboratory;
  • Teaching at the secondary (grades 7-12) level;
  • Professional school in medicine, law, or business

Physics Major

Students majoring in Physics will take Physics core courses covering classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and experimental physics. Participation in Physics Seminar, in which students will be exposed to discussions of current research topics by external and internal speakers, is encouraged for all students and required for Senior majors. In addition, students will take supporting courses in mathematics, chemistry, and computer science.

Research with faculty mentors is strongly encouraged. Brockport students have completed research projects on campus as well as off-campus in NSF-funded research programs.

In addition to the Physics major, the department also offers a Minor in Physics.

Mathematical Preparation

Students planning to major in Physics should have completed algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus in high school; calculus is a desirable but not necessary preparation. Students who are unable to take Calculus I (MTH 201) in their first semester will be unable to complete a degree in physics in four years without summer study. While at SUNY Brockport, students majoring in Physics must complete courses in calculus and differential equations. Students who plan to go on to graduate study in Physics or engineering are advised to take additional mathematics courses.

Certification for Secondary Teaching in Physics

The Physics Department, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Human Development, offers a program that leads to provisional certification in secondary level (grades 7-12) physics teaching. Students pursuing this option must satisfy the course requirements for the Physics major; however, additional course work outside the department is needed to satisfy the requirements for certification. For a complete listing of the requirements for secondary Teacher Certification, consult the Department of Education and Human Development section of the College Catalog.

Student Activities

At SUNY College at Brockport, students interact with the faculty through course work, advisement, and undergraduate research. They can take an active role with the Physics Club, which is a chapter of the Society of Physics Students, and SPS Honor Society. Club activities are aimed at providing student peer support and promoting Physics and science in general. The Physics Club and Physics faculty have sponsored, mentored, and sent more than a dozen students to American Physical Society (APS) national and regional meetings, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Meetings, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and the Rochester Symposium of Physics Students (RSPS). Other activities have included:

  • Field trips to the Cornell Nanotechnology Center, Cornell Electron Storage Ring, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, and the University of Rochester Laser Laboratory;
  • Lectures by prominent physicists at SUNY Brockport and local colleges and universities;
  • Social events including an annual picnic, planetarium shows, spaghetti dinners;
  • Rocket shoots.


Faculty Information

Dr. Eric M. Monier, (, 585-395-5589) received his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Pittsburgh, with a specialization in observational cosmology. He came to Brockport in 2004 after a postdoctoral position working with Dr. Pat Osmer at The Ohio State University on surveys for quasars at high redshifts. While at OSU, he took advantage of the opportunity to teach the two-course introductory astronomy sequence of The Solar System and Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe. Dr. Monier discovered he enjoyed teaching very much, and decided to make it an important component of his career. Dr. Monier studies the gaseous content of the Universe by analyzing absorption lines in quasar spectra. He is interested in how the distribution and chemical composition of gas in the Universe and the stars and galaxies that form from it have evolved over the last 12 billion years. In his research, Dr. Monier uses data from his own observations, as well as those from publicly available databases. He has observed on telescopes on four continents, and has been granted time on the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Monier is Director of the campus planetarium and observatory; his outreach activities include planetarium shows for local school groups.

Dr. Stanley F. Radford, (, 585-395-5576) earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Michigan State University in 1976, and his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in 1980. His work in elementary particle theory covered a variety of areas including: quantum gravity, renormalization, and quantum chromodynamics. In 1986 he moved to private industry and worked in the fields of terrestrial and marine remote sensing, physical oceanography, microwave and millimeter wave sensor system design, and operations analysis. In 1996 he moved to AT&T Bell Laboratories and performed research on optical fiber performance and photonic device design. Dr. Radford returned to academia in 2001, joining the Physics Department at Marietta College in Marietta Ohio, and becoming its Chairman in 2002. Upon his return to academia he resumed his work in the theoretical and phenomenological study of heavy quarkonia. Dr. Radford joined the Physics Department at The College at Brockport in 2006 as its Chairman, where he teaches and pursues research in elementary particle theory. He was awarded a KITP Scholars Fellowship from the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara for the years 2008 to 2010.

Dr. Zachary R. Robinson,(, 585-395-5577) received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from SUNY Geneseo in 2007, and a Ph.D. from SUNY Albany in 2012. As a graduate student, Dr. Robinson studied the growth of graphene by chemical vapor deposition in an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) surface analysis chamber. After finishing his Ph.D., he joined the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C. as a surface scientist in the Electronic Sciences and Technology Division. At NRL, Dr. Robinson continued studying the growth and surface modification of graphene and other 2-dimensional materials with facilities at NRL, IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, and at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Lab. Since joining the physics department at SUNY College at Brockport, Dr. Robinson has set up a surface analysis lab equipped with a thermal evaporator, atomic force microscope (AFM) and an UHV surface analysis chamber. Dr. Robinson’s main areas of research include surface analysis of 2-dimensional materials, growth of thin films with atomic layer epitaxy and grain growth in ceramic materials deposited by aerosol deposition.

Dr. Mohammed Z. Tahar, (, 585-395-5704) received a B.S.E.E from Wentworth Institute of Technology (1981), an M.S. in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1985) and a Ph.D. in Condensed Matter at Low Temperature  from Boston University (May 1991). He remained at B.U. for a year, as a Post-doc, working with Prof. Zimmerman on High-Tc superconductors. For four years, he taught full time at Institute of Technology, Tralee, Kerry, Ireland. In 1997, he joined SUNY College at Brockport, where he has pursued his research interest in Low Temperature Physics. He earned tenure in 2003 and promotion to Professor in 2013. The materials of interest are Ferric Chloride Intercalated Graphite, doped bismuth telluride, and layered materials with 2D electronic, and 2D magnetic properties, as well as, superconductivity (of Indium) and phase transitions. The different probing methods consist of electronic transport (resistance, magneto-resistance, and Hall Effect), magnetic susceptibility (AC & DC), and specific heat measurements.