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Dr. Taylor and Tom Scarry inspecting the observatory deck

Tschannen Science Complex Update

The long awaited science building for students at Sacramento State is well along in its construction. Bolstered by a $9 Million gift from local philanthropist Ernest Tschannen, the Tschannen Science Complex is slated to open in the Fall of 2019!

View of planetarium dome and pendulum (small pit to left of dome) from the 3rd floor.While primarily occupied by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy is well represented with a 100-seat planetarium and the fifth floor observatory and observation deck. In just about a year's time, residents of Sacramento will be able to come to campus to see a wide variety of shows and public events as the Department of Physics and Astronomy plays its part in Sac State becoming an Anchor University.

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Physics major Joey shows the eclipse to a little visitor.

2017 Great American Eclipse!

The 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse stirred up a lot of excitement in Sacramento and it was hard to miss seeing members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty around town talking about it! Television and radio interviews (in English and Spanish), visits to local elementary schools, and even on the steps of the state capitol: we were everywhere.

Physics faculty, staff, and students helped out at the viewing party

The public viewing party that we hosted on top of the nearby American River levee drew hundreds of Sac State students, faculty, and staff as well as lots of folks from the community. We setup several telescopes and made lots of pinhole cameras to share!

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Research Thriving!

Research among students and faculty in the department continues to grow. Increasingly students are becoming involved in research activities with our faculty on and off of campus. Faculty have been highly active in submitting and receiving research grants. Some highlights include:

  • Four faculty are currently supported by NSF.
  • Major Mark Samuel Abbott won the CSU Student Research Competition for outstanding undergraduate research in physical sciences.
  • Nearly a dozen papers have been published by faculty over the past few years.
  • We continue to provide meaningful opportunities for our students through the NSM SURE Program, the Department's P-SURE and W-SURE programs, and faculty members' research grants.

Our research activities provide the opportunity for our faculty to remain connected to the world of discovery, but it also provides our students with outstanding opportunities to grow as they take ownership in discovery and gain valuable practical skills that will benefit them in the careers.

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Prof. Eliza Morris

Hornet Comes Home!

We are very pleased to welcome Eliza Morris, Class of 2005, back to campus as our newest assistant professor. After graduating from Sacramento State, Dr. Morris spent a year as a Fulbright fellow in Denmark before beginning her graduate studies at Harvard University. She was a post-doc at Harvard and at UC Davis. Dr. Morris's research is in the area of biophysics and environmental physics.

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Alumni Spotlight: The World of Finance

Alumnus John Estrada graduated in 1995 with the plan of going to graduate school then moving into an academic career. He drove across the country to begin his graduate studies at MIT. After completing classes, he was based at an experiment at CERN that produced antihydrogen. After earning his Ph.D. he realized that an academic life may not be what he wanted....

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New General Education Classes

Last summer, a new rule came down from the Chancellor's Office that all graduates from the California State University must have 3 units of their required upper-division General Education must come from the sciences. Unlike other campus, at Sacramento State we didn't have that rule. Fortunately, as a player in the upper-division GE world already with our Astronomy 131 and 132 classes, we were well positioned to reintroduce and create some classes that will serve our students.

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In the department link

This year the department hopes to raise $5,000 from alumni and friends to provide resources for areas of greatest need in the department such as: purchasing and maintaining new and existing equipment; sending faculty and students to academic conferences to present research; funding for undergraduate research; and other emerging needs that will enhance physics and astronomy education. Donors contributing $500+ to the department’s discretionary fund are recognized as part of the Dean’s Leadership Circle and receive invitations to special events and activities on campus, and recognition in campus publications. If 21 each give $20/month for a year - we'll exceed our goal! (Not that we'd turn down one person giving $5000 or 10 people giving $500.)

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Department of Physics and Astronomy
Sequoia Hall 230
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6041
(916) 278-6518

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Focus on Physics is produced by the Department of Physics and Astronomy to showcase our activities and highlight the many ways alumni, donors and friends make a difference to our students.


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