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Prabhakar Misra


  • Physics and Astronomy
  • College of Arts & Sciences


Dr. Prabhakar Misra is currently a Professor of Physics & Director of the Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Howard University in Washington, DC, USA. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics (1986) from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, an M.S. in Physics (1981) from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, and an M.Sc. in Physics (1978) and B.Sc. (Physics Honors) (1975), both from the University of Calcutta, India. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), an honor reserved for only one-half of one percent of the total APS membership. The APS Fellowship citation from the Division of Condensed Matter Physics reads: “For sustained contributions to the spectroscopy of the condensed phases and exemplary mentoring of underrepresented students.” He is also a Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS) and a Senior Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA). Dr. Misra serves as the Advisor for the Society of Physics Students (SPS) Chapter at Howard University and has advised and mentored 40 undergraduate students, 12 Ph.D. graduate students and 6 postdoctoral research associates, who have been part of his research group. Prof. Misra has edited 3 books and is the author/coauthor of more than 195 research abstracts, conference proceedings and refereed journal publications. He is a visiting scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland (2010-present), and a research affiliate at START, a DHS Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD (2014-present).

Professor Misra is the editor of the book titled "Applied Spectroscopy and the Science of Nanomaterials" (New York: Springer, 2015) and has also co-edited (along with Mark A. Dubinskii) the well-known book titled "Ultraviolet Spectroscopy and UV Lasers" (Marcel Dekker/CRC Press, 2002). He has received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2008 for his commitment to advancing underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines and his leadership in the foundation's Minority Ph.D. Program. In 2004-05, Dr. Misra was selected to be a Fulbright Scholar and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemical Sciences at The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India. He received the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program (NAFP) award (1999–2001) (administered by the United States National Research Council, NRC), which enabled him to be involved with the Vegetation Canopy Lidar mission at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (1999–2000) and to serve as a Study Coordinator for the National Academy of Sciences’ sponsored study titled “Commercial Supersonic Technology- The Way Ahead” at the Aeronautics & Space Engineering Board (ASEB) (2000–2001). Dr. Misra participated in the Research Directors Conference that was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in April 2001 and over a period of two decades he has served on several important conference panels (both as a member of the program committee and as sessions chair) relating to spectroscopy and lasers. He has served as an Organizer and Keynote Speaker at the "Soft Matter" mini-symposium, which was part of The International Conference on Computational & Experimental Engineering and Sciences (ICCES 09), Phuket, Thailand, April 8–11, 2009. He was an invited keynote speaker at the ICCES 2012 meeting held in Crete, Greece, April 30-May 4, 2012, and an invited speaker at the ICCES 2017 meeting held in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal, June 26-30, 2017. Recently, he was a plenary speaker and sessions co-chair at the First North Indian Science Congress held at B.B. Ambedkar University, Lucknow, India, January 10-11, 2018. He has served as a guest referee for numerous refereed journals, which have included the Journal of Geoscience Education, Journal of Chemical Engineering Communications, Journal of Computer Modeling, Journal of Lightwave Technology, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of Propulsion and Power, Physica B, and the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer and Applied Optics. Dr. Misra has reviewed research proposals for several organizations, which have included the National Science Foundation (NSF), Agency for International Development (AID) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is (or has been) a member of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), and a Senior Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA). During the period 1992-2007, he served as a Principal Investigator (1992–96) and an Associate Principal Investigator (1997–2007) for the $10-M Center for the Study of Terrestrial & Extraterrestrial Atmospheres (CSTEA), which was a NASA-funded University Research Center (URC) of Excellence. Dr. Misra successfully organized a Nobel Laureate Symposium on November 10, 2010 in which Dr. Douglas Osheroff, 1996 Nobel Laureate in Physics, was the invited speaker. A report of this event was written by the SPS National Organization. Dr. Misra organized a second Nobel Laureate Symposium featuring the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Dr. Eric A. Cornell, on February 22–23, 2012. Dr. Misra led a Howard University Department of Physics & Astronomy student team in a thrilling and exciting Zero-G Flight Experiment, Low Gravity Gas-Liquid Contactor, at Ellington Field, Houston, TX on November 12–13, 2013. He has been nominated for the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Professor Misra has maintained ties with scientists in India, specifically Prof. Sanjay Wategaonkar at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai, Prof. V.K. Jain at Amity University in Noida, and Prof. B.C. Yadav at B.B. Ambedkar University in Lucknow, India. During his Fulbright sabbatical at TIFR, he taught a graduate-level course in Laser Spectroscopy and conducted research in Chemical Physics with Prof. Wategaonkar, which led to a significant publication titled “Zero Kinetic Energy Spectroscopy of Hydroquinone-Water (1:1) Complex: A Probe for Conformer Assignment", S. Chakraborty, P. Misra, and S. Wategaonkar, The Journal of Chemical Physics 127, 124317 (2007). Prof. Misra continues to give invited talks at TIFR whenever he is visiting Mumbai, India. He has delivered invited talks at the ICRTMD meetings at Amity University, Noida, India, and an invited plenary talk in 2018 at the international conference titled "Science & Technology for Sustainable Futures" held at Ambedkar University, Lucknow, India.

Education & Expertise



The Ohio State University




Laser Spectroscopy of Nanomaterials

Detailed characterization of a variety of nanomaterials (e.g. graphene, carbon nanotubes and metal oxides) using Raman Spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Simulations.



Introduction to Modern Physics (PHYS 015)

Text: “Modern Physics,” Kenneth Krane, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey, 3rd Edition, 2012 (ISBN: 978-1-118-06114-5).SUBJECT MATTER                                                           Failures of Classical Physics                                                Special Theory of Relativity                                                 Particle-like Properties of EM Radiation                          Wave-like Properties of Particles                                           The Schrodinger Equation                                                  Rutherford-Bohr Model & Hydrogen Atom                         Many-Electron Atoms & Molecular Structure                       Statistical Physics, Solid State & Nuclear/Particle Physics   

Physical Mechanics I (PHYS 182)

Text: “Classical Mechanics,” John R. Taylor, University Science Books, Mill Valley, California, 2005 Edition (ISBN: 978-1-891389-22-1).SUBJECT MATTER                                                        Newton’s Laws of Motion                                                      Projectiles & Charged Particles                                              Momentum & Angular Momentum                                        Energy & Oscillations                                                           Calculus of Variations                                                                      Lagrange’s Equations                                                           Two-Body Central Force Problems                                        

Physical Mechanics II (PHYS 183)

Text: “Classical Mechanics,” John R. Taylor, University Science Books, Mill Valley, California, 2005 Edition (ISBN: 978-1-891389-22-1).SUBJECT MATTER                                                         Lagrange’s Equations                                                             Two-Body Central Force Problems                                        Mechanics in Noninertial Frames                                           Rotational Motion of Rigid Bodies                                        Coupled Oscillations & Normal Modes                               




Experimental Laser Spectroscopy


1. Project/Proposal Title: REU Site in Physics at Howard University

Role: PI

Source of Support:  NSF PHY-1358727                                                

Total Award Amount: $292,310 Total Award Period Covered: 04/01/14 – 03/31/19


2. NASA Early Opportunities Program for Underrepresented Minorities in Earth & Space Sciences

Role: PI
Source of Support: NASA NNX16AC90A
Total Award Amount:  $499,771    Total Award Period Covered: 08/01/16-07/31/19


3. REU Site in Physics at Howard University - Renewal

Role: PI

Source of Support: NSF PHY-1659224                
Total Award Amount: $305,000    Total Award Period Covered: 4/15/17 – 03/31/20


4. Project/Proposal Title: Remote Observations of the Lunar Sodium Corona

Role: Co-I

Source of Support: NASA NNX17AJ48G                                  
Total Award Amount: $67,897    Total Award Period Covered:  05/01/17-04/30/20


5. Project/Proposal Title: DREAM2 Dynamic Response of Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and Moons of Mars

Role: Co-I

Source of Support: NASA  NNX14AG20A                                  
Total Award Amount: $52,000    Total Award Period Covered:  03/25/14-03/24/19

Group Information

  1. Hawazin Alghamdi, Ph.D. student - Working on Raman Spectroscopy of Silicon Dioxide for gas sensing applications.
  2. Olasunbo Farinre, Ph.D. Student - Working on Temperature-dependent Raman Spectroscopy of Graphene Nanoplatelets.
  3. Iman Ahmed, Undergraduate Physics Major - Working on Scanning Electron Microscopy and Raman Spectroscopy of Graphene, Graphene Nanoplatelets and Carbon Nanotubes.
  4. Paras Pokharel, Undergraduate Physics Major - Researching COMSOL Multiphysics Modeling of Nanomaterials
  5. Sandesh Rimal, Undergraduate Physics Major - Raman Spectroscopy of Single-walled and Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes



2018 Robert H. Goddard Team Award for Excellence in Science

Prof. Misra, Co-Investigator on the “Dynamic Response of the Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars" (DREAM2) team, received the 2018 Robert H. Goddard team award for excellence in science (PI/Team Lead: Dr. William Farrell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center). The citation reads: “For excellence in the application of space environmental science to exploration applications.” 

2016 Excellence in Research Productivity Award

Howard University Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr. Prabhakar Misra earned an Excellence in Research Productivity Award from the Howard University College of Arts and Sciences for his work with their Natural Science Division.

2015 Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS)

The citation of the Fellowship Certificate presented by the Division of Condensed Matter Physics reads “For sustained contributions to the spectroscopy of the condensed phases and commitment and exemplary mentoring of underrepresented students.” Election to Fellowship in APS is an honor and distinction, in that it is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership of the American Physical Society.  

2013-14 President, Howard University Chapter of Sigma Xi – the Scientific Research Society

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the international honor society of science and engineering. One of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, it was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation.

2004-05 Fulbright Scholar Award

Prof. Misra was a 2004-05 Fulbright Scholar and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemical Sciences at The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India. 

1999-2001 NASA Administrator's Fellowship Award

1999-2000 - Cavity ringdown spectroscopy measurements for determining water vapor concentrations at sub-parts-per-million level, NASA/GSFC2000-2001 - "Commercial Supersonic Technology: The Way Ahead", D.S. Wiley, Chair, Committee on Breakthrough Technology for Commercial Supersonic Aircraft, and National Research Council Staff, P. Misra, Study Coordinator, The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2002 (ISBN: 0-309-08277-3).