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Applied Physical Sciences

Program Website
Top left: NIH-3T3 Fibroblasts cultured on Integrin αVβ3 selective surfaces immunolabeled for focal adhesions (Vinculin, green) and adhesion-specific integrins α5β1 and αVβ3 (red and magenta, respectively). Top right: Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) image of supramolecular enzyme-responsive fiber bundles. Bottom: Fluorescent image of DNA Protocells with compartmentalization to store information (green and red are 2 groups of DNA sequences). Images collage courtesy of Ronit Freeman’s lab.
Director of Graduate Studies: Rene Lopez, PhD
Student Services Specialist: Akma Kasmaganbetova

Program Overview

Applied Physical Sciences lives in the collaborative space between science and engineering, combining knowledge and discovery with an engineering mindset, team-based science, and entrepreneurship to address real-world problems. Our graduate training offers an interdisciplinary, collegial environment so that our doctoral students can excel in their research and are prepared for the career of their choice. Our faculty have a breadth of research interests, including:

Program of Study

The materials science program offers flexibility in coursework so that students can work with their advisor to identify courses that meet their specific scientific goals.  Attending departmental seminars (i.e. MTSC 718) is an important component of training and students are required to attend these seminars through the graduate program.  Because students pursue unique research areas and aspire to a variety of careers, it is important to meet at least annually with your doctoral advisory committee and maintain an individual development plan.

Year one in the APS program: Complete cohort and elective courses (see below), select a research mentor and doctoral advisory committee, complete a literature review, and write an individual development plan (IDP). There’s also flexibility to complete some of these requirements in the second year.

Year two: Complete any of the above requirements not completed in year one. Participate in departmental research seminars (MTSC 718), begin research, complete prospectus and submit to doctoral advisory committee, complete first doctoral exam, update IDP.

Years three-five: Conduct research, participate in and present at departmental research seminars, meet annually with doctoral advisory committee (including submitting a progress report and updating your IDP)

By end of year five: Publish, write a doctoral dissertation, defend dissertation to doctoral advisory committee, present to the public your research results.


All APS graduate students must pass 6 courses of 3 credit hours each, and 4 seminar courses of 1 credit hour each (22 credit hours total). These courses include one required cohort course, two electives, and two seminars in the fall semester and one required cohort course, two electives and two seminars in the spring semester.  Students are encouraged to work closely with their advisor to select elective courses that align best with the students’ individual research goals.

Fall semester

  • MTSC780: Advanced Materials Science
  • MTSC710: Materials science first year seminar: Resources for success in your PhD program
  • MTSC718: Seminar in Materials Science
  • Two elective courses

Spring semester

  • MTSC785: Scientific computing for materials science
  • MTSC711: Materials science first year seminar: Developing your plan for success
  • MTSC718: Seminar in Materials Science
  • Two elective courses