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Introduction

Traced back to the physics course offered by Advanced Normal School, the Imperial University of Peking (Jing Shi Da Xue Tang) in 1904, the foundation and development of physics has been an intrinsic part of the century-long history of Beijing Normal University, where Department of Mathematics and Physics was founded in 1911, followed by the official establishment of Department of Physics in 1923. In 1952 when schools and departments underwent a series of adjustments, the former Department of Physics, Fu Jen Catholic University was integrated into Department of Physics, Beijing Normal University with a constellation of renowned physicists and education experts, among whom were Wu Youxun, Zhang Yihui, Zhang Zongsui, Zhao Zhongyao, He Zehui, Xia Yuanli, Chu Shenglin, Zheng Huachi, Yu Ruihuang, He Yujie, Zhang Weizheng, Li Yiran, Lv Lieyang, Zhang Fuquan, Lin Zhenjin, Huang Zuqia, Ling Yongshun, Ka Xinglin, Liu Liao, Ma Benkun, Liang Shaorong, Fang Fukang, Yan Jinduo, Liang Canbin, etc., who in return educated numerous fellows of the Chinese Academy of Sciences including Wang Dezhao, Qiao Dengjiang, Wang Chengwei, Ling Yongshun and Liu Shanghe, among others, as well as a great number of backbones of China¡¯s education. The rapid development of physics during the 20th century gave birth to numerous new disciplines within the Department of Physics, itself in a continuous process of development, as well as propelled the creation of Department of Astronomy (1960), Institute of Low Energy Nuclear Physics (1979), Department of Radio Electronincs (1980), Analytical and Testing Center (early 1980), School of Systems Science (2002), Department of Material Sciences (2004), etc., a key contribution to our discipline construction and development. Department of Physics, Beijing Normal University is one of the first education institutions qualified to confer doctorate degree of condensed matter physics and theoretical physics.

The end of the Great Cultural Revolution saw hundreds of abandoned causes waiting to be resumed. It was during this period that Beijing Normal University sent a group of outstanding physicists in the prime of their years for further education in Europe and US. Returning to Beijing Normal University in the early 1980s, these young scholars became the backbones of physics teaching and research in the university. In 1980, Prof. Huang Zuqia, fellow of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, started to teach in Beijing Normal University. Under his leadership and with the concerted efforts of a number of outstanding young scholars at the time, including Ma Benkun, Liu Liao, Fang Fukang, Liang Canbin, Yang Zhanru, Qi Anshen, Hu Gang, Zhao Zheng, Ding Ejiang, etc., a physics teaching and research team featuring strongly competitiveness came into being in the discipline of physics in Beijing Normal University. These scholars gave a strong push to the development of the discipline while acquiring internationally influential research findings in various fields of physics, hence laying the foundation of academic prominence of Beijing Normal University, both domestically and internationally, in statistical physics, non-linear sciences, condensed matter physics, systems science, theory of relativity and astrophysics, nuclear physics, etc. They also instructed numerous Master and PhD degree candidates, who, after years of painstaking efforts, have become excellent scholars and academic backbones of their fields highly renowned in China and overseas.

Currently, the physics discipline of Beijing Normal University employs 2 CAS fellows (1 of whom is dual employed) and 1 CAE fellow (dual employed). Currently, the Department of Physics is qualified to confer Level I discipline doctorate degree and has established a postdoctoral research station, with 4 Level II discipline doctoral programs, namely theoretical physics, condensed matter physics, optics and nuclear physics, as well as a Level II discipline doctoral program in education, namely physics education. Among these programs, theoretical physics program where positions of visiting professor were offered to Yangtze River Scholars was rated among the first national key programs of theoretical physics in 2002 and passed the mid-term assessment in 2007. Condensed matter physics was rated as key program of Beijing in 2002. The Department of Physics also owns two key laboratories, namely "Key Laboratory of Beam Technology and Material Modification of Ministry of Education" and "Key Laboratory of Applied Optics of Beijing". The physics discipline of Beijing Normal University became National Base for Basic Scientific Research in Natural Sciences and Teaching Talent Training in 1996. The Physics Experiment Center won the title of Demo Experiment Center of Beijing with excellent ratings in 2007. Physics Education was among the first to be rated as National Type II Leading Specialty in 2007.