Majoring in Physics

Physics Certificate

Overview

Our program is flexible, so you tailor your studies to fit your interests. You can concentrate in general physics, astrophysics or physics for education, or pursue a five-year, dual-degree program in physics and engineering. Whatever your choice, you work closely with professors and peers on challenging coursework. The low faculty-to-student ratio and the tight-knit, friendly atmosphere in the department ensure you get to know your professors and peers both in and out of class.

Research opportunities

Long- and short-term research projects are integral to your studies. We offer many opportunities for semester-long independent study projects and multi-year projects, including honors theses. Most students also conduct research with professors. You could co-author or even first author an article in a major journal. Students have traveled as far as Paris, Moscow and Zermatt to do research or present their work, and have attended meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research.

Facilities

Our research facilities include a 1 MV ion accelerator (one of four at undergraduate institutions in the U.S.), the state's largest recirculating flume used to replicate flow in natural rivers, a photonics lab where work is being done on the interface of light and electronics, and a 20-inch telescope.

Special opportunties

You are encouraged to pursue summer internships or research positions either on campus or at other facilities, such as the NASA centers, National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates sites at major universities and national or industrial laboratories. This type of work frequently results in student presentations at national professional meetings or in published papers that are co-authored with research advisers. 

What can you do with a majorcertificate in Physics?

Here are some of the positions our graduates have gone on to hold:

  • Astrophysicist, NASA
  • Director of Clinical Operations, Alexza Pharmaceuticals
  • Optometrist
  • Vice President for Government Relations, Archer Daniels Midland Co.
  • Computer Scientist, Naval Undersea Warfare Center
  • Acoustic Engineer, Bose Corp.
  • Data Supervisor, Teligent Inc.
  • Fulbright Scholar, Japan
  • Research Assistant, Harvard College Observatory
  • Ph.D. Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, Duke University
  • Research Associate, Aerodyne Research Inc.
  • Staff Engineer, United Technologies Research Center
  • Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry, Wittenberg University
  • Manager of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratory
  • Software Developer, University of Massachusetts
  • Chair of Imaging Sciences, University of Rochester
  • Engineering Manager, Tesla Motors
  • Teacher, Arlington Science Focus School
  • Patent Lawyer, Volpe and Koenig PC
  • Physician

Faculty

Thomas Ammirati, Professor Emeritus of Physics Thomas Ammirati, Professor Emeritus of Physics

Thomas Ammirati, Professor Emeritus of Physics
Low energy molecular collisions • Methods for teaching physics • History of physics

Leslie Brown, Associate Professor of Physics Leslie Brown, Associate Professor of Physics

Leslie Brown, Associate Professor of Physics
BVRI CCD photometry of active galactic nuclei and variable stars • Astronomy education and public outreach • Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) of active galactic nuclei • Space heritage and off-world cultural resources

Mohamed A. Diagne, Oakes Ames Associate Professor of Physics Mohamed A. Diagne, Oakes Ames Associate Professor of Physics

Mohamed A. Diagne, Oakes Ames Associate Professor of Physics  (On sabbatical 2014-2015 academic year)
Free-space optical communication • Semiconductor device physics with emphasis on lasers and detectors • Plasmonic structures for gas and liquid sensing • Bio-imagers for optogenetic applications

Arlan Mantz, Oakes Ames Professor Emeritus of Physics Arlan Mantz, Oakes Ames Professor Emeritus of Physics

Arlan Mantz, Oakes Ames Professor Emeritus of Physics
Study of the temperature dependence of molecular absorption line widths and shapes using tunable lasers

Michael N. Monce, Professor of Physics Michael N. Monce, Professor of Physics

Michael N. Monce, Professor of Physics
Atomic and molecular physics • Ion-molecule collisions • Ion-atom collisions

Michael Seifert, Assistant Professor of Physics Michael Seifert, Assistant Professor of Physics

Michael Seifert, Assistant Professor of Physics
General relativity • Particle physics • Classical field theory • Lorentz symmetry

Douglas M. Thompson, Professor of Geology, Physics, Geophysics, Astronomy Department Chair 2014-2015 Douglas M. Thompson, Professor of Geology, Physics, Geophysics, Astronomy Department Chair 2014-2015

Douglas M. Thompson, Professor of Geology, Physics, Geophysics, Astronomy Department Chair 2014-2015
Geomorphology • Hydrology • Hazards • Geology • Geography • Civil engineering

Michael Weinstein, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Astronomy Michael Weinstein, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Astronomy

Michael Weinstein, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Astronomy
First-year physics ("studio") • Introductory astronomy lectures and labs

Student profile


Graham Allen Graham Allen

Physics


Q: Why Connecticut College?
A: I was drawn by the small classes in the sciences and music. And Tempel Green and the Arboretum provided a beauty that was and still is unmatched by other NESCAC schools.


Q: What is it like to study science at Connecticut College?
A: In one word: personal. There is an abundance of one-on-one time with each professor for each science class. My average physics class is six people. Lectures feel a lot more like discussions in small classes. Small liberal arts colleges provide the means for undergraduate research, which can be invaluable when applying to graduate school.


Q: What types of research have you done?
A: I worked in Professor Diagne's photonics lab in the spring semester of my freshman year and had the fortune to do metamaterial plasmonics research with a colleague of his at UMass Lowell the following summer. Last year I did laser speckle research for the Sackler Undergraduate Research Program at Yale.

Selected courses


  • Solar System Astronomy
  • Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology
  • The Origin and Fate of Our Universe
  • Introduction to Physical Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Mining and the Environment
  • Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
  • River Environments: Science, Engineering and Management
  • Modern Science and Technology – Gateway to a New Millennium
  • Electronics for Scientists
  • Modern Physics
  • Digital Design
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetic Theory

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Student research


The Effects of Gradient and Discharge on Culvert Outlet Scour
By: Clare Murphy-Hagan '13
Advising Faculty: Doug Thompson

The Black Box Module for Low-Level Light Detection and Probing in Optogenetic Studies
By: Libby Maret '12
Advising Faculty: Mohamed Diagne

An Analysis of Wind Resources and the Feasibility of Wind-Energy Generation on the Connecticut College Campus
By: Michael Marshall '11
Advising Faculty: Douglas Thompson

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