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Department of Physics

Alumni Information

Staying in touch 

For alumni wanting to stay in touch with the department, we recommend joining the department’s Facebook page – just search for “UC Davis Physics” within Facebook.  If you want to come visit the campus and let current students benefit from your post-UCD experience, please register for our Alumni Seminar Series by going to our Connect with Physics page and checking the 'Present at our speakers program' box.  Or please express your interest in an email to Professor Lloyd Knox (lknox@ucdavis.edu).  You can read more about the seminar series below.   

What our alumni do

Our alumni go on to do a great variety of interesting things out in the world. 

After the bachelor’s degree

Immediately after an undergraduate degree most of our students go on to graduate study in physics, some for graduate study in other fields, and some go straight to jobs in industry and yet others start their own businesses.  According to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) we have one of the highest rates of placement into science, technology or math (STEM) fields within one year of graduation.  Due to this success we were recently visited by an AIP committee charged with establishing best practices for physics departments.

After the PhD

Our PhD recipients mostly go on to postdoctoral positions at other academic institutions and at national labs.  For a list of PhD recipients, grouped by PhD advisor, see here.

Further into their careers

We have kept in touch with many of our alumni and so know that further into their careers they are engaged in a great variety of jobs that they find fulfilling.  They are creators of new technology in the medical devices industry, writers of science news, serial founders of companies, teachers of high school students, developers of software, managers of large scientific projects at national labs, investors in new small businesses, and manufacturers of high-end acoustic amplifiers among many other things.

The Alumni Seminar Series

Every spring we have some of our alumni come back to talk to our students about life after Davis.  The series of talks, one a week, is very valuable for our current students. They give a perspective that the faculty cannot provide.  And for the faculty, it is always gratifying for us to hear our alumni refer to the benefits they see of their time spent hard at work here studying physics.  It is also very nice to see the alumni respond to this opportunity to give back to the department.

Over the past few years we have heard several themes come out repeatedly from our alumni:

1) In many circles, a physics degree leads to instant respect for the intelligence of the degree-holder.

2) Pursuing a physics degree is good practice for tackling a variety of problems – even ones that have nothing to do with physics. 

3) Training in physics somehow helps one to have a systems-level view of an organization, market, or complex product, which allows one to see connections that others miss. 

4) Physicists can find solutions to complex problems, even outside their area of expertise.

We also hear repeatedly about things that have nothing to do with physics, such as the importance of networking, good communication skills, and doing things that you love doing.  These are useful bits of wisdom for our students to be hearing first hand from those working outside of academia, who were once where they are now.

We thank all of our participants to date for their enthusiastic response to our request, their time spent preparing and the time and expense of traveling back to campus.  They did this for nothing in return, other than the opportunity to tell their story to our current students. 

In 2011 they were Kevin McLin (BS 1985, Sonoma State University), Greg Spooner (BS 1985, Phd 1992, Cutera, Inc.), Horace Hines (PhD 1976, Philips Medical), Marcus Romani (Meline Engineering), Briann Zaugg (BS 1996, Applied Micro Circuits Corporation), Mark Lawrence (California Scientific), Susan Johnston (BS 1987, Livermore High School) and Professor Tom Cahill (UC Davis). 

Once again, if you are a UCD Physics grad and would like to be added to our database of alumni to call on to participate in the Alumni Seminar Series, please fill out our Connect with Physics web form and be sure to check the 'Present at our speakers program' box.  If you've previously filled out he form and did not check the box, please express your interest in an email to Professor Lloyd Knox (lknox@ucdavis.edu).