Our main areas of research are astrophysics, optics, and planetary, and solar science. Both graduate and undergraduate students are involved in the department's research groups and projects.

Galaxies, Galaxy Groups and Clusters, Cosmology

Dr. Ming Sun's Lab

We study galaxy groups and clusters, the evolution of their member galaxies, super-massive black holes, AGN feedback and cosmology with multi-wavelength data from radio, sub-mm, infrared, optical to X-rays, including the data from Chandra, XMM, ALMA, HST, VLT, MMT, MeerKAT, VLA, SOFIA and NOIRLab. We also use the data from astronomical surveys on various data mining projects.


We study the high energy universe using telescopes such as Chandra, XMM-Newton and NuStar. Our research reaches from accreting supermassive black holes, AGN feedback, to clusters of galaxies, cluster mergers, and out to exploring distant quasars. We also study large scale structure formation, and the interface between galaxy clusters and the cosmic web.

Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti's lab

I work broadly across many areas of astrophysics, utilizing observations, computation and theory.  My research interests include Galactic dynamics, radiation transport, time-domain and multi-messenger astronomy, and machine learning.  My current research is focused on developing techniques for precision measurements of dark matter. We are adapting techniques from the exoplanet community (extreme-precision radial velocity observations), pulsar timing, and of eclipsing binary stars, to develop time-series precision measurements of the accelerations of stars, which gives the most direct probe of the mass distributions in galaxies. These recent measurements now enable the new, highly interdisciplinary field of “real-time” Galactic dynamics that brings together the exoplanet community, researchers in compact objects and eclipsing binaries, and in traditional Galactic dynamics.

High-Energy Solar Physics

Dr. James A. Miller's Lab

We study the acceleration of electrons and ions to hundreds of MeV and beyond in solar flares, which are some of the most efficient and remarkable sources of high-energy particle acceleration in astrophysics. These energetic particles produce a host of diagnostics, including gamma-ray bremmstrahlung, nuclear de-excitation lines, the positron annihilationa and neutron captures lines, and pion decay radiation.

Fast Radio Bursts

Dr. Richard Lieu's Lab

I am working on the detection of acceleration of steady radio sources with a continuum spectrum which is void of spectral lines, by exploiting a quadratic temporal phase in the Gaussian noise.   We also developed and published an algorithm, known as eigenfiltering, which is capable of enhancing the signal-to-noise ratio of fast radio transients by many times.  Additionally, we are looking into the problem of gravitational wave emission by inhomogeneous accretion disk (see the poster) and its implication on the growth rate and radiation characteristics of supermassive black holes and jet formation. 

Ultrafast and Precision Optics

Dr. Lingze Duan's Lab

The Precision Ultrafast Light Sciences (PULS) group at UAH strives to extend the boundary of optics and photonics toward shorter time scales, smaller spatial scales, higher precision, lower noise, and broader scopes of scientific contexts. The research activities at PULS encompass the areas of femtosecond lasers, optical frequency combs, precision optical metrology, fiber-optic sensing, nanophotonics, optical imaging, optical spectroscopy, and photonic detection. There is also a strong interdisciplinary theme leading to collaborations with other fields such as astrophysics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. 

Nanophotonics and Quantum Devices


At Nanophotonics and Quantum Devices group at UAH, we study the intrinsic and collective properties nanomaterials, including metallic nanoantennas, semiconductor quantum dots, and atomically thin semiconductors. We are interested in understanding the fundamental properties of these materials and explore ways to achieve novel properties via application of quantum coherent processes in hybrid systems consisting of these nanostructures. Current research also include coherent/collective energy transport in nanostructure assemblies and application of plasmonic metasurfaces to engineer light scattering and emission/photon spins of quantum emitters. We are also interested in applications of hybrid nanostructure systems for quantum devices and biological and chemical nanosensors, and for ultra-long range transport of quantum information. The research in Nanophotonics and Quantum Devices group covers plasmonics, metal-oxide control of optical properties of quantum dots and metallic nanoparticles, and ultrafast processes in hybrid nanoparticle systems.

Biophotonics and Biophysics

Dr. Du Le’s Lab

Dr. Le’s research interest focuses on developing novel optical tools and computational models for clinical application and transitioning existed ones into the clinics. Leverage the principles of light interaction with dynamic and static scatterers in biological tissues while understanding the clinical needs for non-invasive, portable and affordable disease detection tools, Dr. Le’s Translational Biophysics Laboratory (TBL) investigates various medical issues (mainly cancer and neurocognitive function) at both cellular and tissue level using optical microscopy and optical spectroscopy methods including but not limit to correlation spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, time domain near-infrared spectroscopy (tNIRS), and second harmonic generation (SHG) spectroscopy. Our primary goal is to improve the quality of care to individuals with signs of neurocognitive impairment, and to patients who received treatments in the form of surgery and radiation therapy. TBL is where physical optics and optical design meets radiation oncology & biology. TBL has open research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Atmospheric Physics


My passions are lightning and Atmospheric Physics and I have more than 40 peer-reviewed publications. My other passion is teaching. My teaching philosophy attempts to follow the Socratic method, where nothing is taken for granted. Still, I focus on the interaction with the student, critical thinking, and intuitive understanding of “things that make sense”. My Physics courses adhere to the basic principles of Science: Perspiration and Inspiration. Although I follow the textbook’s material, my lectures are often more inclusive and definitely less regurgitating than mainstream textbooks. My goal is that students build an "under the hood" understanding of Physics. In my lectures, I engage in interactive discussions. I do not encourage formulaic memorization or "plug and chug Physics teaching". I teach you how to critically question the physics, then use mathematics to reach your solution. PH111, 112 and 113 courses and labs involve solving lots of problems, both individually and in groups. I am not here to “grade” you; I am here to teach you Physics. Your efforts will eventually result in you grading yourself.  For all of you majoring in UAH's STEM path degree paths, my advice is, “If you want to be successful in your field do not treat any of the PH 111/112/113 courses as just another course, but rather as support material for any STEM pathway in your university studies and eventually in the workplace."

Dr. Buddhi Pushpawela's Lab

My research interests are in the interdisciplinary field of aerosol science and include studies of secondary aerosol formation in the atmosphere, air pollution, air quality and its impact on human health and the environment. I also conduct research on control measures in aerosol-driven disease transmission and instrumentation.