Welcome to Physics & Astronomy

2018 has been a year to remember. We had a fire in June that displaced us from our research space. We are (almost) back and going strong. Our concept for a new Physics research building received the green light. With luck, it will be shovels-down next Fall. Will Percival, the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Distinguished Chair in Astrophysics, has arrived and is energizing the department. Five exceptional graduate students received Vanier awards in physics. Emily Pass won the triple crown in Co-Op undergraduate astrophysics. In October we learned that our own Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize in Physics. And, as of this writing, 2018 is not over. It’s taken months for all of this to sink in as we prepare for our December sojourn to Stockholm. The festivities and excitement will surely continue long after the ceremonies in Stockholm have ended. I look forward to telling you about it in the new year. For those of you considering physics as a way of life, please take a close look at our programs. If you are lucky to be admitted in 2019, come and share in the excitement of doing physics at Waterloo, a great department, at a great university, located in a great community that lives and breathes physics.

Come to Waterloo!

Brian McNamara, Chair

The Physics & Astronomy department encourages an inclusive, tolerant, respectful, and diverse, intellectual environment

  1. Dec. 7, 2018Physics alumnus makes 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list30 under 30

    From manufacturing and industry, robotics, healthcare and more, eleven of Waterloo’s alumni and former students have earned spots on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. The list, which represents innovative minds from Canada and the United States, stretches across 23 categories for a total of 600 people. Among the group, are two Science a

  2. Oct. 31, 2018Hotspot discovery proves Waterloo astrophysicist’s black hole theoryAvery Broderick

    The recent detection of flares circling black holes has proven a decade-old theory - co-developed by Waterloo physicist Avery Broderick - about how black holes grow and consume matter.

  3. Oct. 2, 2018Donna Strickland wins Nobel Prize in PhysicsDonna Strickland

    Donna Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor who helped revolutionize laser physics, has been named a winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.

    Strickland, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, shares half the $1.4 million prize with French laser physicist Gérard Mourou. The other half was awarded to U.S. physicist Arthur Ashkin.

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  1. Dec. 10, 2018Nobel Prize Viewing PartyDonna Strickland

    Join our on-campus viewing party of the Nobel Prize ceremony, and watch Professor Donna Strickland accept the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 live from Sweden.

    Let's celebrate Professor Strickland's outstanding achievement together!

    We expect her big moment to be on screen early in the program. 

    Light party snacks provided.

  2. Dec. 11, 2018Probing Accretion Turbulence in the Galactic Centre with EHT Polarimetry

    M.Sc. Thesis Presentation

    Candidate: Chunchong Ni

  3. Dec. 12, 2018Dwarf Galaxies as Cosmological Probes Julio Navarro

    Astronomy Lunch Series

    Julio Navarro

    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria
    Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
    Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

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Meet our people

David Hawthorn

David Hawthorn


On sabbatical until April 30, 2019

The Quantum Materials Spectroscopy group, led by Dr. Hawthorn, studies Quantum Materials using resonant soft x-ray scattering and x-ray absorption spectroscopy at synchrotrons such as the Canadian Light Source. We use these tools to investigate intertwinned order in Quantum Materials and shed light on the long-standing mysteries of high temperature superconductors.