Department of Physics & Astronomy

Environmental Physics

New Opportunity in Graduate Education

The Department of Physics and the Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences at the University of California at Riverside announce a unique interdisciplinary graduate training opportunity in Environmental Physics.

  • Apply the theoretical and experimental techniques of optical, surface, and condensed matter physics to the environmental problems confronting society today.
  • Receive graduate training in both physics and environmental science.
  • All admitted candidates will receive competitive stipends, in the form of fellowships, assistantships, fee remissions, and/or other financial awards.
  • Degree options include:
    • MS or PhD in Physics with specialization in Environmental Physics
    • MS or PhD in Soil Physics or Soil Physical Chemistry
    • Dual-degree program (MS/PhD) available for highly motivated students
  • All training programs include jointly supervised thesis or dissertation research, seminars, professional development and other activities.
  • Training and research programs are integrated within UCR's Program in Graduate Studies in Environmental Science and Engineering. Eight other participating degree granting units (departments or programs) offer research opportunities in a variety of areas including: atmospheric science, pollution detection and remediation, dynamical processes at land-water and water-air interfaces, colloidal science, and biological effects of pollution and bioremediation science.


Students will conduct thesis research under the joint supervision of faculty members from both Physics and Soil and Environmental Science. Proposed research topics include:
  • Nonlinear optical studies of molecular activity and orientation at air-water, mineral-water, and oil-water interfaces
  • Synchrotron and x-ray photoemission studies of contaminant sorption and reaction on environmentally active surfaces
  • Scanning probe microscopy studies (STM, AFM, NSOM) of environmental surfaces
  • Surface studies of water and ice
  • Molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo studies of transport and reactions at environmental interfaces
  • Fundamental studies of ion and contaminant transport and structure in ice and water
  • Application of percolation theory to soil and groundwater systems

Participating Faculty

  • Dr. Harry W.K. Tom, Co-Director and Professor of Physics.
  • Dr. Michael A. Anderson, Co-Director and Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry.
  • Dr. Chris Amrhein, Associate Professor of Soil Chemistry
  • Dr. Ward P. Beyermann, Assistant Professor of Physics.
  • Dr. Andrew Chang, Professor of Agricultural Engineering.
  • Dr. Eric L. Chronister, Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry.
  • Dr. William A. Jury, Professor of Soil Physics.
  • Dr. Douglas E. MacLaughlin, Professor of Physics.
  • Dr. Umar Mohideen, Assistant Professor of Physics.
  • Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Professor of Physics and Chancellor.
  • Dr. Jory A. Yarmoff, Professor of Physics.

Facilities and Resources

Participants in Environmental Physics have access to a wide array of research facilities. In addition to the facilities of the Physics and the Soil and Environmental Sciences departments, students have access to the materials and surface science communities at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Brookhaven National Synchrotron Light Source, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory through faculty collaborations. Active collaborations also exist between SES faculty and the USDA Salinity Laboratory located within the UC Riverside campus. The campus has two state-of-the-art user facilities, an Analytical Chemistry Instrumentation Facility and an Electron Microscopy Instrumentation Facility. Environmental science and engineering research emphasizing atmospheric science and air pollution are supported by two centers: Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) and the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center (SAPRC).

About UCR

UC Riverside is one of the nine campuses of the University of California. The university occupies a spacious 1200 acre site at the foot of the Box Spring Mountains in Riverside (60 miles East of Los Angeles). Present campus enrollment is 9,559 students, including approximately 1250 graduate students. UCR has 5 Colleges and professional schools. Both the Physics and the Soil and Environmental Sciences departments are located in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Additional academic resources are available through the Chemical and Environmental Engineering program in the College of Engineering.


Applicants may apply directly to the Physics or Soil Science Ph.D. programs at UCR or to the program in Graduate Studies in Environmental Science and Engineering (see their admissions instructions). Candidates should indicate their degree and research interests clearly in a cover letter and in their personal statements.  Successful Environmental Physics candidates are expected to have strong undergraduate training in physics, chemistry, or soil science, although candidates with training in environmental engineering, hydrology and related fields are also encouraged to apply. Applications sent to the departments are reviewed by the relevant Ph.D. granting department and a joint committee of Environmental Physics participating faculty.  Applications sent to the Environmental Science and Engineering program are reviewed by all their participating units including the Environmental Physics program and attempts are made to place applicants in one of the eight units.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant departments and individuals below before applying.  All applications are also reviewed by the Graduate Division of UCR.  UCR is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer.

Financial Aid

All candidates admitted to the graduate programs in Environmental Physics are offered competitive financial aid packages which includes support through Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Fellowships.

Additional Information

Please contact: Prof. Harry Tom, Department of Physics, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, harry.tom@ucr.edu (909) 787-2818 or Prof. Michael Anderson, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521. michael.anderson@ucr.edu (909) 787-3757.  General information, program offerings and departmental course offerings are described in the UCR general catalog.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

Physics & Astronomy
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Main Office Tel: (951) 827-5331
Main Office Fax: (951) 827-4529
Maynard, Bonnie; Chair's Assistant, Academic Personnel
E-mail: bonnie.maynard@ucr.edu