Environmental Physics

The Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences  offer 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