'Doing' Physics

Physics video image

Physics video image

Video by Joe O'Neill 

The Department of Physics & Astronomy is a national leader in physics education, in part for developing its Workshop Physics program, an innovative activity-based method for learning introductory physics.

“Our program is very hands-on,” says David Jackson, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “Our students do physics; that’s how they learn it.” What students find is that “doing physics” creates a tight-knit group that often feels as familial as academic.

“We’re not just a department,” says Sahil Nayyar ’16, “we’re a family. The faculty and students, we have a very close relationship.”

All upper-level students have access to facilities created for projects in optics, nonlinear dynamics of complex systems, plasma physics, pattern formation in magnetic fluids, material science, environmental physics and astronomy, and they find that chances to tackle research are there for the taking.

“I’ve done a lot of research in the department,” says Benjamin Kimock ’15, “and it’s amazing how quickly opportunities open up if you just start talking to professors.”

Students interested in astronomy help run the Kanev Planetarium and conduct research on the 24-inch telescope of the Michael Britton Observatory, which sits on the roof of Tome Hall, the heart and soul of the physics program.

“We call it our home,” Katie Roy ’15. "Tome is home. Tome is where the heart is. All that fun stuff.”

Learn more

Published February 9, 2015