Physics and Astronomy

Physics Department Incorporated into New College of Science

After twenty-one years in the College of Engineering and Science, Clemson Physics and Astronomy will move to the College of Science in 2016. We will join the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Genetics and Biochemistry, and Mathematical Sciences in the new college. This structure becomes official on July 1, 2016 for business, fiscal, and personnel matters, and after the August graduation for academic matters. The two Life Sciences departments are moving out of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences. The present college structure emphasizes applications over curiosity-driven science, but Clemson University is making a renewed commitment to fundamental scientific research.

The apparent convergence of math and physical science principles and techniques with forefront problems in the science of living systems presents a significant opportunity for the new college. These five units share not only core research values, but similar educational cultures as well. Mathematics and science general education courses, taken by every Clemson undergraduate, will be housed in the new college, as will the many service courses taken by all STEM majors. Seemingly inevitable enrollment increases have very similar impacts on all the departments in the College of Science. Graduate teaching assistants in these units are essential instructors in hundreds of laboratories, recitations, and lectures every semester.

The current Chair of Physics & Astronomy, Dr. Mark Leising, has moved to Interim Dean of the College of Science as of December 1, 2015. He will oversee the development of budgets, tenure and promotion practices, bylaws, business and research services, and student advising over the next seven months. Leising joined Clemson in 1991 as an assistant professor. He held a Humboldt Fellowship from 1997 to 1998 in Garching, Germany. In 2011, he became Interim Chair of the university’s Physics and Astronomy Department and was named Chair in 2013. He has directed Clemson’s astronomy labs and the Clemson Planetarium since 1994. Moreover, Leising was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Scientists and Engineers in 2014.

Terry Tritt, professor of Physics and Astronomy, has taken over as Interim Chair. While Physics and Astronomy has fared well in the College of Engineering and Science, with many productive collaborations with researchers, the faculty regards this change as a significant opportunity for new directions and improved support for the department.