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.

Michael Dunham
Michael Dunham (Credit: Michael Dunham )

Welcome to our new colleague

Dr. Michael Dunham will be joining the physics department faculty during the summer of 2024.

Research Interests

Dr. Dunham’s research focuses on the earliest stages of star formation, and is aimed at answering the question “How do stars gain their mass?”  While the short answer to that question is that stars form due to the gravitational collapse of dense condensations of material, there are many physical processes that work together to form the final mass of a star.  The current understanding of how these processes interact to initiate, regulate, and cease the assembly of mass into stars remains incomplete, and Dr. Dunham uses a combination of observations from space and ground-based infrared, (sub)milimeter, and radio telescopes to build a more complete picture of the star formation process.


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.

Physics Events

Observatory Events

  • Stargazing at the Mittelman Observatory

    The Mittelman Observatory is hosting a stargazing event on the MBH roof deck from 9:30 - 11:00pm on Sunday May 19th. This event is open to Middlebury College students, faculty, staff, and alumni only. For safety reasons, attendance is limited and registration is required (see link below). Please register for only one 30-minute stargazing time slot. Tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The event is free for all attendees. Note that this event will only take place if the sky is expected to be mostly clear.

    Mittelman Observatory (McCardell Bicentennial Hall)

    Closed to the Public

Meet the Faculty

Office Hours

Explore the Major


Find What You Need

Student Resources