Physics & Astronomy


Welcome to the Department of Physics & Astronomy

Physics is the study of matter and energy at all scales, from the sub-nuclear to the dimensions of the universe. It is the fundamental science — all other sciences and technologies rely on the principles of physics.

Physics involves observing and understanding natural phenomena. It is evident in the world around us in everything from the seasons, the motion of objects, the flight of birds, the night sky and the weather, to lasers, electronics and the technology we rely on today. Astronomy teaches you how to study objects at a distance and interpret the information gathered. This helps us begin to understand the universe we live in. The skills you will learn in astronomy are also applicable to remote sensing and its application to environmental problems. 

Department Highlights

Adam Christiansen

U of L grad student presents at prestigious photonics conference

Only in the second semester of his master’s program with University of Lethbridge astrophysicist Dr. David Naylor, Adam Christiansen was selected to present at SPIE Photonics West, the world’s largest photonics innovation conference.

“I was excited when I found out I’d been chosen to present,” says Christiansen. “It was nice to know that I was at least doing something that other people considered to be on the right track and worthy of a presentation. I was nervous because everybody there knows a lot, but it ended up going quite well.”

Photonics is the science of light generation, detection and manipulation, commonly involving the application of lasers and fibre optics. Popular photonics research areas include telecommunications, medicine, military and defence, manufacturing and aerospace.

Locke Spencer

Two U of L professors receive renewed Canada Research Chair funding

Dr. Kristine Alexander, a University of Lethbridge history professor, and Dr. Locke Spencer (MSc ’05, PhD ’09), a U of L experimental astrophysicist, will continue their leading-edge research with the renewal of their Tier 2 Canada Research Chair funding. 

The renewal of $500,000 over five years for Spencer will allow him to continue to advance far-infrared instrumentation for upcoming space missions. He will be directly involved in the development of the Canadian contribution to the European/Japanese Space Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA). The funding is accompanied by $150,000 from the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund to develop astrophysical instrumentation to explore the universe’s far-infrared region.

David Naylor

SPICA mission, with major University of Lethbridge contribution, one step closer to reality

SPICA, the joint mission between the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) to observe the infrared with super sensitive instruments, was named one of three finalists in ESA’s M5 call for mission proposals on May 7, 2018.

“I am impressed about the quality and breadth of the missions proposed for M5. Each of the selected proposals has high scientific value and would ensure a continuation of Europe’s expertise in the fields of planetary science, astrophysics and cosmology,” says Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science.

That’s good news for the University of Lethbridge, which is the lead Canadian institution in the mission, and astrophysicist Dr. David Naylor, who has been involved in the project from its beginning nine years ago.


Career Bridge | Co-operative Education & Applied Studies

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