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
  • NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Teach for America
  • Tesla
  • Owens & Minor, Inc.
  • Revenue Solutions, Inc.
  • U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Raytheon Technologies
  • 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: Lia Gilmore ’25  

Student Snapshot: Lia Gilmore ’25  

Meet Lia Gilmore ’25, a physics major and social-media wiz who's studying astronomical data reduction.

Physics Major Graduate School Acceptances 2022

Physics Major Graduate School Acceptances 2022

Graduating seniors accepted to Drexel University and University of Chicago.

Sharing Scientific Research—and Passion

Sharing Scientific Research—and Passion

Students present original scientific research on everything from the geoarchaeology of stone steps to the impact of climate change on snapping turtles.

Dickinson Students Publish Physics Paper With Renowned Mathematician

Dickinson Students Publish Physics Paper With Renowned Mathematician

Dickinson physics students team with Priestley Award winner and bestselling author Steven Strogatz to study the physics of synchronization using metronomes.

Student Snapshot: Gavin Frueh

Student Snapshot: Gavin Frueh '24

Meet Gavin Frueh ’24, a physics major who served a summer internship at the Dickinson College Farm.

Student Snapshot: Maitland Witmer ’22

Student Snapshot: Maitland Witmer ’22

Learn more about why physics major Maitland Witmer ’22 says the professors are the best part of her Dickinson experience.