United States Air Force Academy

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Major Lachlan Belcher

Assistant Professor of Physics

Department of Physics

Offiical Photo of Major Lachlan Belcher
Contact Information

(719) 333-3637



Major Lachlan Belcher is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He entered the Air Force in 2003 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, then subsequently earned his Masters in Applied Physics from AFIT in 2005.  After serving as the program manager for ICBM survivability at Hill AFB, Maj Belcher went on to earn his PhD in Applied Physics. Maj Belcher has served as a Division Chief and Branch Chief at the National Reconnaissance Office, Lead Test Director and Deputy Chief at The Starfire Optical Range, Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, and a Detachment Commander with the 474th AEF.


PhD, Applied Physics (AFIT, 2011)

MS, Applied Physics (AFIT, 2005)

BS, Physics and Mathematics (USAF Academy, 2003)

Certificate, Test and Evaluation (AFIT Distance Learning, 2014)

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Physics, USAF Academy, CO (06/2018-Present): Led four instructors in educating 120+ technical and non-technical officer candidates per semester.

Division Chief, Survivability Assurance Office, NRO (11/2016-06/2018): Led 50+ member team to design, build, and deploy electro-optical collection and spacecraft protection systems

Chief, Spacecraft Acquisition Branch, Non-Traditional Geospatial Intelligence System Program Office, NRO (08/2014-11/2016): Led a team of diverse skill sets tasked to design and build a multi-$M spacecraft to host an experimental payload.

Deputy Chief, Engineering Branch, Starfire Optical Range, Kirtland AFB, NM (01/2011-02/2013): Led 64-person branch directing $25M of laser weapon systems research.

Commander, Det 1, 474th AEF (02/2013-05/2013): Commanded four-person detachment embarked on US Navy Vessel HSV2 Swift, offering foreign area expertise and public affairs functions to the Navy during Operation Southern Partnership Station 2013.

Lead Test Director and Chief, Engineering Section, Starfire Optical Range, Kirtland AFB NM (06/2013-08/2014): Led 18-person test team conducting $10M/year test planning and operations for a space situational awareness field test activity.

Program Manager, ICBM Survivability, 526th ICBM Systems Wing, Hill AFB, UT (03/2005-06/2007): Directed all Nuclear Hardness & Survivability testing for a $2B weapon system

Research and Scholarly Interests

Mathematical Physics

Quantum Chemistry of Lasers

Electronic Structure Theory


“The Generality of the GUGA MRCI Approach in COLUMBUS for Treating Complex Quantum Chemistry” (J. Chem. Phys. Accepted for publication 1 Mar 2020)

“Analytic non-adiabatic derivative coupling terms for spin-orbit MRCI wavefunctions. I. Formalism” (J. Chem. Phys. 151, 234104 (2019))

“Analytic non-adiabatic derivative coupling terms for spin-orbit MRCI wavefunctions. II. Application” (J. Chem. Phys. 151, 234109 (2019))

Classified Title (Space Control Conference, 2017)

“Potential energy Surfaces and Derivative coupling Terms for M + Ng, M = K, Rb, Cs, and Ng = He, Ne, Ar” (Spring 2011 Meeting Ohio-Region Section of the APS (Vol 56, Number 3))