The Department of Physics & Astronomy is an acknowledged national leader in physics education for developing the Workshop Physics program, an innovative activity-based method for learning introductory physics. In classes, from the most basic to the most advanced, students engage in activities and projects complemented by interactive lectures.

All upper-level students do research in a state-of-the-art building with facilities for projects in optics, nonlinear dynamics of complex systems, plasma physics, pattern formation in magnetic fluids, material science, environmental physics and astronomy.

Students interested in astronomy help run the Kanev Planetarium and conduct research on the 24-inch telescope of the college’s Michael Britton Observatory.

Contact Info


Brett PearsonAssociate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Department Coordinator

Tonya Miller






Tome Hall - Rector Science Complex Mailing Address

Department Features

Student Outcomes

Where Our Students Go From Here


  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Teach for America
  • Tesla Motors
  • Owens & Minor, Inc.
  • Revenue Solutions, Inc.
  • U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Raytheon Company
  • Quintiq
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Decisive Analytics Corporation

Graduate Schools:

  • University of Illinois
  • Dartmouth College
  • University of Colorado
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Florida, Gainesville
  • University of Michigan
  • Harvard
  • MIT
  • Columbia University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Wesleyan University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Clemson University
Where Our Students Have Done Research
  • Coherent, Inc. 
  • Vassar College 
  • University of Monash (Australia)
  • Princeton University 
  • Lehigh University 
  • Wellesley College 
  • Oak Ridge National Lab 
  • Fermi National Accelerator Lab
  • University of Maryland
  • Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education
  • Kanazawa University

Student Perspective

"The Dickinson physics curriculum—shout out to the incredible faculty!—uses small-group, inquiry-based courses to allow students to take ownership of the concepts covered during lectures through hands-on experimentation. Throughout my time at Dickinson, the physics department pushed us to make connections between the coursework concepts and the world around us. This approach provided me with the tools and knowledge necessary to explore a range of topics creatively and from different perspectives, and the liberal arts are an important aspect of this balance.”

 —Natalie Ferris ’18

Physics & Astronomy

Student Snapshot: Louis Poirot ’22

Student Snapshot: Louis Poirot ’22

Meet Louis Poirot ’22, a double major in physics and math who interned in France and once worked as a wrangler at an Arizona dude ranch.

Physics Major Jobs and Graduate School Acceptances 2020

Physics Major Jobs and Graduate School Acceptances 2020

Physics majors are accepted to graduate programs at University of Maryland and University of Southern California and secure jobs in astronomy and hazardous waste management.

Student Snapshot: Amanda Baylor ’20

Student Snapshot: Amanda Baylor ’20

Physics major Amanda Baylor ’20 has participated in student-faculty research that has taken her from Dickinson to Australia as she prepares for a career studying gravitational waves.

A Look Inside Dickinson College

A Look Inside Dickinson College's Rector Science Complex

It's been a decade since the Rector Science Complex was unveiled. See why it remains a wildly popular spot for science students, and how it helps spur innovative student research.

Physics Major Jobs and Graduate School Acceptances 2019

Physics Major Jobs and Graduate School Acceptances 2019

Graduating seniors secure jobs with NASA and are accepted to graduate programs at Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth and other institutions.

Dickinson College Alumna Wins National Physics Honor

Dickinson College Alumna Wins National Physics Honor

National physics associations honors Natalie Ferris ’18 for work she did as a Dickinson senior.