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Physics Strategic Plan

Our mission: The mission of the Idaho State University Department of Physics is to pursue cutting edge research in both fundamental and applied physics, and train of the next generation of physical scientists, technicians, and educators.


The Idaho State University Department of Physics is actively engaged in a variety of cutting edge research pursuits, all of which focus on the use of experimental nuclear physics techniques to address problems in both fundamental and applied science. Major efforts include:

  • nuclear non-proliferation and homeland security
  • radiation effects in materials and devices
  • nuclear reactor fuel cycle physics
  • accelerator applications
  • biology
  • fundamental nuclear and particle physics.
Strategic Plan

ISU’s strategic plan has six complementary goals. These are summarized by Access, Learning, Research, Service, Faculty, and Support.

Goal 1

The department’s primary mission is to provide quality research and education in the physical sciences. Our plan to improve graduate and undergraduate access includes delivery of more courses in Idaho Falls, and to add more emphasis to our undergraduate program. Our goal is to create new degree programs and emphases that are:

(a) consistent with and build upon our existing strengths in nuclear science,

(b) are “low cost”, in the sense that in addition to requiring little additional financial and human resources, they do not add to our teaching burden,

(c) consistent with the broader ISU mission of health sciences and,

(d) boost enrollment in our programs.

One of the degree programs that we propose to add is a D.A. program for students that wish to pursue a career of teaching in high schools or 2-4 year colleges. Similarly, we plan to pursue an M.A. program that is also focused on careers in teaching. In both cases, the coursework would utilize existing classes. The new degree emphases that we wish to pursue are a “bio-science” track to our B.A. physics degree for health-science and teacher career options. In addition, we wish to pursue a pre-med focus to our B.S. program which is designed for students that are interested in medical school. This would be particularly attractive to those who wish to become medical doctors since physics majors have a higher acceptance rate to medical schools than from any other discipline. Both of these emphases should bolster our enrollment and make a degree in physics accessible and useful to a wider range of students at minimal cost.

Goal 2

By making our courses more accessible to a wider variety of students, we seek to double our number of undergraduate majors and student enrollment and thereby increase ISU’s contribution to the scientific and intellectual capital of Idaho. We note that we have more than doubled both our graduate and undergraduate enrollment in the last three years, and we seek to do this again in the coming five years. At the same time, we aim to raise the caliber of our students through active recruiting both locally and internationally. We feel that the previously mentioned degree initiatives will greatly increase the number of students of local origin whom we serve. At the international level, we are actively pursuing formal agreements with institutions at Tbilisi State University (Georgia), Kharkov National University (Ukraine), and the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). These agreements will involve the participation of bright and highly motivated students from around the world, and the ISU Department of Physics seeks the support of the ISU administration in these efforts. Since the great strength of the modern research university is its interweaving of the research and teaching missions, a high priority for our department will be the recruitment and retaining of faculty with strong interests in both research and gradu- ate education. In particular, we seek to recognize and reward, to the extent possible, the mentoring of graduate students.

Goal 3

We will continue to raise the research profile of our department in a manner which enhances, rather than detracts from, our teaching mission. First, this will involve increasing our faculty numbers. Secondly, we seek to increase and diversify our external funding. Approximately 85% of the regular, tenure track faculty in the department have external funding, averaging about $400 thousand per faculty member per year and resulting in a prolific record of scientific publications. However, much of the external funds coming to physics faculty (through the department or the IAC) are either directly or indirectly DoD or DOE funds, and these are typically short-term (1-year) contracts. We need to diversify to other sources of funding such as the NSF, NASA, NIH, and the DHS (Department of Homeland Security). In addition, we have a strong need to fully utilize the physics department base- ment laboratory space. When the Physical Sciences building remodel was completed in 2002, a large amount of space (approximately 4000 square feet) in the basement was left unfinished. The current finished lab space is already at capacity. With the arrival of several new faculty in Fall 2006 and our emphasis on experimental physics, the conversion of this space to laboratory facilities is crucial. In addition to faculty and graduate research, finishing this lab space is also important for serving our un- dergraduate B.S. students' senior project research.

Goal 4

The ISU Department of Physics plays an active role in service to the com- munity. We will continue our extensive program of outreach to elementary and high school students which includes numerous public physics lectures and demonstrations, as well as a summer program involving high school students in research. The Department will also seek to continue its contribution to the local econ- omy. One local company, Positron Systems, has already spun off from work done by faculty in our department. Also, plans are underway to commission a cyclotron for the production of isotopes for medical applications in a local hospital. We seek to contribute to the local economy is less direct ways, as well. As part of our goal of making the ISU Department of Physics a powerhouse of nuclear physics research, we are organizing two scientific conferences to increase our profile in the scientific community. For the summer of 2007, we hosted both the meeting of the Northwest Section of the American Physical Society and the AccApp (Accelerator Applications) conferences. The later conference is expected to attract on the order of 300 physicists from around the world, thus contributing to business at local hotels and restaurants.

Goal 5

In addition to good skills in classroom teaching, we will particularly focus on recruiting faculty who have a strong interest in mentoring graduate students and whose research interests are in line with the departmental focus of nuclear physics. We will also recruit those who will provide promising opportunities for ob- taining external funding and will enable students to obtain skills which are of value in the job market. We plan to do this by leveraging external grants and contracts to pay for them. In this regard, our connections to our external partners (such as INL, Jefferson Lab, Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley Lab- oratories) are important. We note in particular that the Jefferson Lab administration has supported a faculty member in accelerator physics. The further pursuit of such opportunities will be an key part of our strategy in the upcoming five years.

Goal 6

Our support staff are of value to our Department in a number of respects. The secretarial staff often provide a public face to our students and play an important role in generating a helpful and pleasant atmosphere conducive to high student retention. As a department with a heavy emphasis on experimental work, our technical staff are also essential. In this regard, we seek to stabilize the budget of the Idaho Accelerator Center to provide a more secure source of funds which will enable the long term retention of experienced and qualified technical staff. In conclusion, the tra jectory of the ISU Department of Physics that has been established over the course of the last several years has been a good one. In the next five years, we plan to continue our trends of increased enrollments and external research funding, and the addition of more first rate faculty. At this stage, the Department is by no means “mature” in the sense that there are still a great many things which will be done to improve it further. With the goals laid out here, we believe we will enhance our effectiveness in executing our research, teaching and service missions.

Student Information (Kirsten)

Prospective Students

ISU and the ISU Physics department are here to assist your entry into the ISU Physics program. The ISU Physics department uses the general admissions department to screen applicants for undergraduate studies. See the links below to start on your way.

Applying and Registering

Program Description

Why ISU Physics is Great!

We employ many of our undergraduate students in research. Many of our students have graduated with publications in scientific journals. We have around 60 undergraduate majors and around 30 graduate students. Class sizes are small, with 4 to 12 students per class typical for non-introductory classes. The student-to-teacher ratio is smaller than almost any other ISU department. None of our classes are taught by graduate students. We have the largest physics program in Idaho. We have more laboratory space than any other ISU department. We have more working particle accelerators than any other educational institution in the world. We have had a 100% job placement record for our graduates (B.A., B.S., M.A., M.N.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) for the last five years. All of our faculty are experimental physicists. Our focus is on applied nuclear physics. Highlights of the ISU Department of Physics The Idaho State University Department of Physics is actively engaged in a variety of cutting edge research pursuits, all of which focus on the use of experimental nuclear physics techniques to address problems in both fundamental and applied science. Approximately 85% of the regular, tenure track faculty in the department have external funding, averaging about $400 thousand per faculty member per year and resulting in a prolific record of scientific publications. Major efforts include: C fundamental nuclear and particle physics C nuclear reactor fuel cycle physics C nuclear non-proliferation and homeland security C accelerator applications C radiation effects in materials and devices C biology

The ISU Department of Physics greatly benefits from its strong association with the Idaho Accelerator Center (IAC), where much of its research is carried out. The IAC is a unique facility possessing more research accelerators than any other university in the world. These include eight electron linear accelerators ranging in energy from 6 to 30 MeV, a 2 MeV positive-ion Van de Graaff accelerator, and a pulsed-power 10 MeV induction accelerator. Additional scientific laboratories can be found at the Pocatello airport where the technology to inspect cargo containers for the presence of nuclear weapons related materials is being developed, as well as in the physics building where there are facilities for low-level radionuclide analysis for environmental monitoring. The Department enjoys strong research ties with other departments at ISU, (chemistry and biology, in particular), as well as with external partners including the Idaho National Laboratory, Jefferson Lab, Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs, and Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. An important mission of the ISU Department of Physics is the training of the next generation of scientists, technicians, and educators. The Department has a strong undergraduate program, with about 60 majors currently working toward their Associate degrees in physics, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in physics. The graduate program is one of the largest graduate nuclear science program in the nation, with over 30 students working towards M.S., M.N.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied physics. The research activities of our faculty provide outstanding preparation for our students as they enter the job market. Our graduates are regularly employed in technical positions at national laboratories and industry, in education as junior and senior high school teachers, and in bio-science and applied physics careers. The ISU Department of Physics is a dynamic, active, and growing department. It has pursued a deliberate strategy of focusing on areas of experimental nuclear physics which are of great intellectual interest and provide good opportunities for research funding and first-rate educational opportunities for our students.

  • Physics Information Sheet
  • Physics B.S. Course Schedule
  • Facilities

Area Description

  • Community Page
  • Pocatello, Idaho
  • Campus Tour

Research and Facilities

  • IAC - Idaho Accelerator Center
  • Beam Lab

Q & A

What does the Physics Program entail?

What do physicists do?

Physicists work in educational, industrial, and government sectors, with jobs from research to production, even the financial and computer industries. Physicists are well suited to tasks that require stepwise problem solving skills. These skills include analytical and logical thinking, moderately advanced math skills, good observational and communicational skills.

How long will it take to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Physics from ISU?

The length of a student's education is dependent on the pace with which a student passes requried courses. However, if a student strictly follows the program outlined in the ISU Undergraduate Catalog, as approved by an advisor, it can be completed in eight regular semesters (Fall/Spring).

A Masters of Science in Physics will take additional time. Please contact an advisor for more assistance.

Where is the Physics building located?

It is located in the Physical Science Building:

   785 S. 8th Ave.
   Pocatello, ID 83209

Physics Catalog


Campus Information


Programs (Valeriia)& Classes (Tony)

Program Information

Physics Programs

The ISU Department of Physics offers many degree options including a Physics minor, an Associate of Science, a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Science, a Ph.D. in Applied Physics and a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science in cooperation with the College of Engineering.

Please see the Physics section of the undergraduate catalog for required classes and more program information.

Undergraduate Programs

An Associates degree is available for those completing an introductory sequence of physics courses.

A Bachelor of Arts or minor in Physics are also available to aid students seeking an interdisciplinary education.

The Bachelor of Science program provides a core curriculum focusing on physics and related courses. Beyond the core curriculum the student may choose from physics and related courses in order to complete the degree. The program is designed to provide a flexible degree that can be used for a career in physics or closely related fields. The student should complete a B.S. before progressing to a Master of Science in physics. BS course requirements.

Graduate Programs

The Master of Science in Physics program is tailored to the student's needs. An appropriate faculty member should be consulted when tailoring the program to meet student needs.

The Master of Natural Science in Physics program is designed primarily for teachers and prospective teachers who want to improve their understanding of the subject matter of physics.

The Ph.D. Applied Physics is available in the areas of Radiation Science, Accelerator Applications and Applied Nuclear Physics.

Class Information

Resources for Current Physics Students

The ISU Physics department is actively concerned with the success of it's current physics students. If you are a current ISU Physics student, the links below should help you advance your education. If these links to not meet your needs, please contact the ISU Physics Department.

Registration and Financial Assistance

   Financial Assistance
   Academic Advising (General Advising)
   Physics Advising is done by Dr. Dan Dale
   Registration and Records Department
   Online Registration
   Undergraduate Catalog
   Physics Section of Undergraduate Catalog

Faculty and Staff

   Contact an Instructor
   Current Graduate Students

Online Coursework -- by Professor

   Hackworth, Martin

Online Coursework -- by Instructor

Martin Hackworth

       PHYS 152 -- Astronomy
       PHYS111/112 -- General Physics (summer)
       PHYS211/212 -- Engineering Physics
       PHYS 325 -- Weather and Climate
       PHYS101L -- Essentials of Physics Lab
       PHYS 153 -- Astronomy Lab
       PHYS 113/213 -- Physics Lab I
       PHYS 114/214 -- Physics Lab II

REU Program

HS Intern Program

Physics Financial Report


FY Salary Student Credit Hours (SCH) SCH*Tuition Salary*Overhead Revenue-Expenses
13 $555,579 4113 467 221 189 $1,497,000 1,166,716 $330,284
14 3480 493 415 70 182 $1,392,000

UG:LD = Undergraduate Lower Division classes

UG:UD = Undergraduate Upper Division classes

UG:LA = Undergraduate Labs

Tuition = In state tuition is used to determine the revenue generated solely by physics instruction.

Overhead= A multiplier from ISU's CFO used to estimate the universities costs for providing instruction.


FY Awards IDC
13 $762,753 $113,770
12 $322,524 $44,338
11 $322422 $39,552

Awards=The award amount is determined based on the contributions from all grants for that fiscal year only. Awards to physics faculty which support work at the Idaho Accelerator Center are NOT included.

IDC = Indirect Costs Generated for the University

Performance Measure calculation

Return on Investment (ROI) = Productivity/Salary/2.1

Productivity = SCH * Wt * ($300) + Grant IDC + Direct Salary + (service Wt)*Salary*2.1

Wt = 1 Lower Division, 1.45 upper division, 3.2 MS, 3.95 Ph.D.

Service Wt = 0.1 Normal, 0.4 Admin, special < = 0.4

Facilities & Research (Yujong)

Physics Facilities

ISU Physics Facilities

The ISU Physics department offices and facilities are located on the first floor of the Physical Science building, located at 785 S. 8th Ave., Pocatello, ID 83209.

Several facities are available for student and faculty use. Please use the links below for more information on those facilities available.

   Beam Labs
       18MeV and 6MeV LINACs
       Van de Graaff Accelerators
   Idaho Accelerator Center (IAC)
   Physics demonstrations and equipment available in the Department

Idaho Accelerator Center



The ISU Physics department conducts research specializing in the following areas.

   Homelandsecurity/nuclear nonproliferation/nuclear safeguards
   Materials Science
   Accelerator Physics
   Cross Cutting / Interdisciplinary Research
       Photon activation analysis
   K -12 Educational Programs
   In Service Teacher Programs

You may want to visit the pages of the Wells Research Group for more information on accelerator and applied nuclear physics research and collaborations.




   Beezhold, Wendland, Ph.D.
   Professor Emeritus
   Bernabee, Kirsten, M.S.

   Chouffani, Dr. Khalid 
   Associate Research Professor, IAC
   Cole, Phil, Ph.D.
   Associate Professor
   Dale, Dan, Ph.D.

   Forest, Tony A., Ph.D.
   Associate Professor
   Harmon, Frank, Ph.D.
   Professor Emeritus
   Khandaker, Mahbub, Ph.D.
   Professor, Physics Chair
   McNulty, Dustin, Ph.D.
   Assistant Professor
   Shropshire, Steve, Ph.D.
   Tatar, Erdinch (Eddie), Ph.D.
   Associate Professor


   Nickell, Ben
   Systems Administrator
   O'Neill, Sandra
   Administrative Assistant



Support the Idaho State University department of Physics.

Your support is invaluable in creating a learning environment that allows the Idaho State University Department of Physics to improve the education of our graduates.

Increasing the number of scholarships helps accommodate well deserving students within our department.

Increasing the size of our endowment helps support the academic program by improving the effectiveness of physics demonstrations, the renovation and repair of our facilities, financial aid, support graduate research opportunities as well as many other needs and priorities.

Your support of the Physics Department helps many deserving students attending Idaho State University find success.

Pledge a donation to the Department of Physics (Be sure to check the college/department button and type "Physics" in to the text box.)

Graduate Students

As of Aug 22, 2017

Student Advisor
Devi Adhikari Dr. McNulty
Leyton Brenner Dr. Forest
Jeff Burggraf Dr. Dale
Olga Cortez Dr. Cole
David Friant Dr. Tatar
Connor Harper Dr. Forest
David Housley Dr. Speilman
Dylan Lasher TBD
Bady Lowe Dr. McNulty
James Norris Dr. Tatar
joseph McCullough Dr. McNulty
Cody Milne Dr. Tatar
Daniel Sluder Dr. McNulty
Daniel VanWasshenova Dr. Forest
Carlos Bula Villarreal Dr. McNulty

Special Events ( Eddy)

ISU Physics Events

Current Events

Current Events

   ISU Physics and SPS Demo Show. Saturday, April 26th at 5pm. More information.
   Physics labs schedules: PHYS 153, 113/213, 114/214). For more information see the LAB FAQ for more info.
   American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) annual meeting was held March 23 - 24, 2007 at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

Ongoing Activities

   Departmental Colloquium Schedule
   Idaho/Utah Chapter of the AAPT
   ISU Physics Demo Shows
   Physics Roadshow Schedule


=Physics & Astronomy Buzz= Dan

ISU Physics Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Professor Tatar and his graduate students' work with the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE[1]) were detailed in a 7-27-2017 News and Notes [2].

The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE[3]), on which Professor Tatar and his graduate students are working, is discussed in some detail in a CNN article [4]

The ISU Society of Physics Students (SPS) has earned the Blake Lilly Award by the American Institute of Physics for their science outreach to Idaho schools and community groups, and public science presentations.

Club members and physics faculty visit more than 40 schools and community groups a year for science presentations, activities, and workshops. They also organize a "Punk'n Chuck" competition and the Southeast Idaho Science Olympics, and present an annual public science demonstration show on the ISU campus.

The club is one of five SPS chapters nationwide to receive this award in 2011.

The Blake Lilly Prize recognizes SPS chapters and individuals who make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics.

An article on the ISU club's activities is posted on the National SPS web page at, and will appear in the Fall 2011 issue of the "SPS Observer." The award consists of a plaque and a three-volume set of the Feynman Lectures on Physics.

Science in the News

   Science News Headlines
   Science Daily
   Science News Online
   Science@NASA Headlines
   AAAS ScienceNow
   Science Friday