Physics and Biophysics Distinguished Speaker Series

The Physics and Biophysics Department hosts a monthly speaker series in which we invite researchers from universities, companies, and laboratories from across the country to talk to our undergraduates about their research. The speakers also discuss their career paths and advise on how to pursue a future career in a related field. The speaker series is held monthly on Tuesdays at 12:15 PM. Come learn about all of the cool things you can do with your physics or biophysics degree! And of course, lunch is also provided!

Past speakers and topics have included:

  • Matt Anderson, SDSU, Keeping it Light: Sculpting the Color and Spatio-temporal Characteristics of Ultrafast Laser Beams Using Spatial Light Modulators
  • David Mallin, UCI, Low-Temperature Physics: Graduate School and Beyond
  • Jordan Hanson, OSU, The Future of Ultra-High Energy Multimessenger Astroparticle Physics
  • Jennifer Ross, UMass Amherst, Building a Cell with Undergraduate Research
  • Michael Rust, U of Chicago, How Cyanobacteria Use Three Proteins to Predict the Future
  • Matt Block, CSU Sacramento, Computational Studies of Many-Body Magnetic Models

Society of Physics Students

USD's Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a vibrant and active club designed for any student interested in the wonders of physics. In addition to regular organizational meetings, SPS offers two to three major gatherings per semester, including such recent events as:

  • Attending the undergraduate physics conference PhysCon
  • Hosting Pi Day fundraising activities
  • Participating in outreach events with Hoover High

All interested USD students are invited to join SPS. No training or classes are required--just a strong curiosity about the physical world around you. Membership fees are very reasonable and entitle you to Physics Today, a physics magazine written specifically for undergraduates, as well as many science networking opportunities.

Outreach and Education Events

Are you interested in teaching? Do you like explaining physics and doing demonstrations? Do you like working with grade school and high school students? The Physics and Biophysics Department hosts several outreach and secondary education programs that students can participate in:

  • St. Gregory the Great [8th graders] (Contact Dr Pham for more information)
  • Hoover High School (Contact Dr Severn for more information)
  • New Physics Teacher Conference (Contact Dr Severn for more information)

Physics and Biophysics Facebook Page

Visit the department Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all of the cool happenings in the department.  Connect with fellow majors, alumni, and faculty. Learn about networking and job opportunities, read student testimonials, and more!

Recruitment Lunch

Are you interested in majoring in physics or biophysics but not sure how to get started? Are you unsure about what to major in? Do you want to know what it's like to major in physics or biophysics, and what you can do after you graduate?

If so, attend one of our world-famous recruitment lunches that we host every semester! Hear from current students about why they chose physics or biophysics and what they plan to do. Learn about what classes you should be taking and why, and what you can do with a physics or biophysics degree. Meet the faculty, see some amazingly cool demonstrations, and help make (and eat!) liquid nitrogen ice cream. And of course chow down on a dank JV's burrito.

Recruitment lunches are held during dead hours in the second month of every semester. Contact Crystal Ibarra for more information.

Student Scholarships

Alice B. Hayes Science Scholarships/Fellowships

Award: The scholarship may be applied to semester, summer, or intersession courses at USD, and will not exceed $5000

Application Deadline: November 26, 2018

June 2003 marked the grand opening of the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology, and the retirement of Dr. Alice B. Hayes, President of the University of San Diego. As part of the opening of the Shiley Center, a scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Hayes was therefore established in support of students who display merit and majoring in biology, chemistry or biochemistry, environmental and ocean sciences, biophysics or physics. Students may choose to use funding from the Hayes Scholarship fund to support summer and academic year research. A committee of faculty members from the four science departments will judge applications.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to email Patti Tarantino ( in Financial Aid stating the type and amount of Alice B. Hayes Endowed Scholarship you are applying for (scholarship for tuition and fees or research fellowship) prior to applying; she can inform you about how such an award will be coordinated with your other financial aid if you are selected as a recipient. 

Application Requirements: 1) You must be majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental and Ocean Sciences, Biophysics or Physics. If you are awarded a scholarship, you must remain a student in one of these majors during the award period. 2) You must have a grade point average at or higher than a 3.25/4.00. If you are awarded a scholarship, you must maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher to continue the award for the second year.

USD Faculty Contact: Tammy Dwyer

Procedure: Hayes Application

Associated Students (AS) Academic Grants

Each academic year, A.S. offers two grants for student research projects: the Research Grant and the Creative Exploration Grant. Both grants offer funding for research supplies and travel expenses associated with completing research.

Research Grant: offers funding for most materials requested for a research project.  Some examples of items funded in the past are chemicals, lumber materials, conference registration fees, survey incentives, and books. In order to receive maximum funding, we recommend that you do extensive research and find the most affordable option available before compiling your budget. Projects from all fields of study will be judged equally; this grant often funds research projects in the fields of science, engineering, psychology, and communications.

Creative Exploration Grant: available for student projects that display innovation and creativity while furthering the student’s technique and knowledge in the field of study.  All students are welcome to apply, but priority will be given to students studying the arts such as projects on art, humanities, architecture, or history.

Please visit the Associated Students website for more information.  All questions should be directed to: Chair of Academics at

Office of Undergraduate Research Award

The OUR may award up to $500 per student to present original research, scholarly, or creative projects at a regional or national conference. For students that require funds above the maximum award, please contact A.S. or visit the Associated Students website for more information.


  • Must be a full-time USD undergraduate in good academic standing

  • Must be an author, co-author and presenter at the conference

  • Limit one travel grant per student. Previous recipients are not eligible for a second grant

How to apply: As soon as you have received acceptance to the conference, complete the application and submit the required documents to Please note that the application and required documents, unless otherwise noted, must be completed/submitted by the student at least 30 days before the conference. For more details and links to the application forms visit the USD OUR site.


Changemaker Summer Fellows Program

Students who have a passion for change are encouraged to apply for the Changemaker Summer Fellows program. The program offers $2,000 for students to explore who they are as Changemakers and to develop their skills in framing social issues and creating innovative approaches to addressing them. This program is open to all undergraduates who will be returning to USD the following year.

Career Services Summer Internship Award

The Summer Internship Award supports current USD undergraduate students as they pursue internships that advance their interest in exploring career options.

The Summer Internship Award is not a replacement for wages, but rather is intended to offset living, transportation or other expenses associated with participating in a summer internship.  Students granted this award are eligible to receive up to $3000 that will be dispersed in three payments. To apply visit the Career Development Center webpage.




Tutoring for students enrolled physics courses is available each semester. Tutors and schedules may change from semester to semester.

Tutoring Hours - Spring 2021
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Starting Tuesday, February 2nd

Location: Gather - Instructor will provide password