|WHY UNIVERSITY RESEARCH? Universities in the United States engage in advanced research that is the basis for our technological society. This research probes fundamental questions about the nature of the universe, and so pushes the envelope of human understanding. It also develops immature technologies that business is not yet willing to invest in, anticipating future needs and advances. This research is partially funded by the US federal government, the New Mexico state government, and by collaborations with industry. The New Mexico Tech Physics Department pursues several avenues of research.
At New Mexico Tech our two major areas of physics research are Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics. Below is a brief introduction to the research done by Tech Physics faculty, with links to more detailed information.
ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS, as the name implies, is the study of Earth’s atmosphere and atmospheric phenomena. The atmosphere is an extremely complex system: a turbulent fluid responsible for our weather, sustaining life and, at the upper boundary, for protecting us from ultraviolet radiation and the formation of aurora (northern lights). Topics in atmospheric physics investigated at New Mexico Tech include cloud physics, the formation of lightning and thunderstorms, chemical processes and radioactivity, and the formation of the aurora.
ASTROPHYSICS at New Mexico Tech includes gas giants and exoplanets, the dynamics, kinematics and chemical evolution of nearby galaxies, plasma astrophysics, star formation and the latest stages of stellar evolution. The Extended Very Large Array and the Very Long Baseline Array, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), are headquartered here on campus and offer unique opportunities for research in radio astronomy for faculty and students alike. In addition, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) has one facility in operation (a fast-tracking 2.4-meter telescope) and is completing the MRO Interferometer. Both facilities offer opportunities for students interested in instrumentation and optical/infrared astrophysical observations.
Students and Research: An important mission of university research programs is the training of students in research techniques as part of their educational experience. Many will use the tools and techniques learned in the lab throughout their careers. The NMT Physics Department has students involved in research at all levels, from undergraduate laboratory assistants, to graduate Ph.D. research. Moreover, students make essential contributions to most research done at New Mexico Tech. For more information about student involvement in research, see Student Research.