Professor Alan Mackellar
The University of Kentucky, located in Lexington, was founded in 1865, and is the state university and land grant institution. As the principal educational institution in Kentucky, it is particularly charged with responsibility for professional and graduate training within the state. Approximately 24,000 students are currently enrolled on the Lexington campus, a 350-acre site within easy walking distance of the downtown area of the city. Of these students, about 25 percent are enrolled in graduate or professional schools.
The academic work of the University is organized into the Colleges of Agriculture, Allied Health Professions, Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Communications, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Home Economics, Law, Library Science, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work, and the Graduate School--all located on the Lexington campus. A University Extension and 14 community colleges, including the Lexington Community College, offer many additional programs and services to citizens of the state.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy is composed of 29 full-time faculty, approximately 60 graduate students, and 35 research, technical and administrative staff members. Research in the Department is generally divided into four broad areas: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Atomic Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, and Nuclear and Particle Physics. Within each of these areas, graduate students can complete both coursework and individual thesis research projects leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.
Upon entering the graduate program, students usually complete one to three years of work in the classroom, depending upon the student's background and the degree sought. In some cases, students enroll in advanced undergraduate physics courses to remedy specific deficiencies. Master's degree students must pass the Preliminary Examination requirement by satisfactorily answering questions on the departmental Cumulative Examinations. The written part of the Qualifying Examination for Ph.D. candidates is satisfied by satisfactorily answering the advanced level questions on the Cumulative Examinations. Nearly all graduate students serve as Teaching Assistants for introductory undergraduate physics courses.
Students are encouraged to become familiar with the work of one or more of the research groups in the Department--usually by attending topical seminars and then arranging to work with a faculty member on a research project during the summer. In this way students become prepared to enter the research program and complete the thesis requirements of the graduate degrees. Master's degree candidates may choose to complete additional course requirements if a thesis option is not elected. While completing a research project with a member of the faculty, graduate students have access to the broad range of resources provided by the Department and University. The array of computational resources is described elsewhere in this brochure.
Additional services are provided by fully-staffed machine and electronics shops located in the Chemistry-Physics building. In addition, several of the research programs are conducted in part at major national and international research facilities.
Persons considering graduate study in physics and astronomy should be aware that mastery in these fields requires both a commitment from the student, and dedication to hard work. The rewards of meeting this challenge are considerable, however, and can provide the professional physicist with membership in one of the great modern adventures of mankind.