Physics is the fundamental science, leading to our most basic understanding of the natural world and of human technological achievements.

Physics Home Feature
Observatory photo credit: Jason Duquette-Hoffman

The program is designed to integrate physics into the liberal arts curriculum, as well as to provide challenging courses and research opportunities for students majoring in physics. Courses and student research activities in astronomy are an integral part of the physics program.

Course offerings in the Physics Department reflect the needs of three categories of students: (1) those majoring in physics; (2) those majoring in another science who need a basic introduction to physics and the analytical skills it provides; and (3) those majoring in areas outside the sciences, who seek to explore the concepts of physics with a minimum of mathematics. Laboratory work is emphasized at all levels of our program, from first-year courses through senior thesis work. The Physics Department also conducts weekly “tea times” during the semester so students, faculty, and staff can meet in an informal setting.

McKinley Brumback
(Credit: P. Draghis )

Welcome to our new colleague

Dr. McKinley Brumback will be joining the physics department faculty during the summer of 2023.

Research Interests

Dr. Brumback’s research focuses on the behavior of gas that is falling onto neutron stars: the ultra-dense cores that some stars leave behind after a supernova explosion. Neutron stars sustain magnetic fields trillions of times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field and are the perfect laboratory with which to study the behavior of matter in extreme environments. Dr. Brumback uses observations from X-ray satellites to investigate how the magnetic field in these systems traps and funnels hot gas onto the neutron star surface and how these gas flows change with time.


Physics students

Why Study Physics?

If you’re curious about nature, want to understand the universe from first principles, love math—both abstract and applied—and enjoy tinkering in the lab or constructing rigorous arguments, then you should explore the physics major.

Physics equipment

Facilities and Equipment

From an active astronomical observatory that is central to the community to state-of-the-art instruments and your own study room for casual interactions, our home in the majestic Bicentennial Hall has everything you need to immerse yourself in the world of physics.

Student working with instruments in a physics lab.

Research Opportunities

Laboratory work and student research are emphasized at all levels of our program, from first-year courses through senior thesis work. Read more about research.

Meet the Faculty

Office Hours

Explore the Major


Find What You Need

Student Resources