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


David JacksonProfessor of Physics

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


NASA's John Mather Delivers 71st Priestley Award Lecture

Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist meets with students and discusses his nearly 30 years of work as the senior project scientist on the groundbreaking James Webb Space Telescope.

Astrophysicist for NASA

Astrophysicist for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to Give Talk at Dickinson

John Mather will receive Dickinson’s annual Joseph Priestley Award.

Two Dickinsonians Raise More Than $500,000,000 in Venture Capital for New Business

Two Dickinsonians Raise More Than $500,000,000 in Venture Capital for New Business

The alumni's Legacy Automotive Capital Real Estate Fund focuses on growing its auto finance business in cities with NFL franchises.

Building a Machine to Solve the

Building a Machine to Solve the 'Traveling Salesman' and Similar Problems

Working with a group from Cambridge University, Professor of Physics Lars English publishes new research in 'Nature' journal 'Communication Physics.'

Graduate Story: Olivia Lanes

Graduate Story: Olivia Lanes '14, IBM Quantum Engineering

The former physics major followed her gut to a leadership role in tech giant IBM's quantum community.

Paul Kanev ’75 Provides Dickinson

Paul Kanev ’75 Provides Dickinson's Planetarium With a 'Huge Step Forward'

With a generous gift, the Kanev Planetarium allows students to look further into the universe than ever before.