We aspire to help students forge tools to reveal the stunning quantitative vistas on our universe. Given the various trajectories of Hamilton students, this education prepares students for physics graduate school; supports students in their pursuit of different quantitative interests including engineering, chemical physics, and careers where quantitative analysis is employed; fulfills the one-year introductory physics requirements for students pursuing health professions, chemistry, and graduate work in other sciences; and includes courses accessible to students across the campus with a wide variety of interests and mathematical backgrounds.
About the Major
At Hamilton, physics students learn in small classes with faculty members who offer one-on-one encouragement, personal direction, and research opportunities suited to their needs. Lab work is central to their studies, and senior projects often produce results that are presented at conferences or published in journals. Prospective engineers will be interested in Hamilton’s five-year, combined-degree programs with Columbia University, the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis. Astronomy is a minor within the department.
Students Will Learn To:
- Exhibit broad understanding in foundational physics
- Use foundational physics to analyze a diverse set of complex problems
- Demonstrate skills for experimental physics
- Demonstrate skills in technical communication
A Sampling of Courses
Introduction to Astronomy
A description of the universe, starting with the appearance and organization of the solar system and working outward. Development of the heliocentric view. Observational deduction of properties of stars. Stellar evolution and its relation to pulsars and black holes. Galaxies and the structure and history of the universe.
Explore these select courses:
Intensive study of Maxwell’s equations in both differential and integral form; electrostatics and electro-dynamics; special relativity; and the transformation of electromagnetic fields. Introduction to electromagnetic waves and dielectric and magnetic materials.
Meet Our Faculty
Katherine Brown (Jones-Smith)
Chair, Associate Professor of Physics
fractal analysis of Jackson Pollock drip paintings; theoretical cosmology; and non-Hermitian quantum mechanics
Professor of Physics
computational and electronic projects, and the development of programs to help teach aspects of physics
Assistant Professor of Physics, Director of Chemical Physics
experimental condensed matter
Stone Professor of Natural History
neutron spin filters and angular correlations in neutron decay
Assistant Professor of Instruction in Physics
exoplanet detection, physics education research, and electronics
Litchfield Professor of Astronomy
quantum gravity, quantum geometry, general relativity and quantum gravity phenomenology
Megan Marshall Smith
Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
computational physics, black holes, and astrophysical plasmas
Explore Hamilton Stories
Sichlau ’23 Internship at Varian Steers Him Toward Mechanical Engineering
Physics major Jacob Sichlau ’23 interned this summer at Varian Medical Systems on the microwave ablation team. The experience solidified his interest in pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering after Hamilton.
Exploring Exoplanets’ Existence
As the sun comes out and the stars start to fade, Ryan Hunt ’23 and Alvaro Marin Miralles ’23 head back to their dorms. On clear nights, they are up at the Peters Observatory with Assistant Professor of Instruction in Physics Adam Lark until 4 a.m., tracking their target star system and hoping to see its brightness decrease. That decrease is caused by an object eclipsing its light, an indicator that the star system, like our solar system, may have its own planet.
Student Researchers Building, Analyzing Artificial Cells
Assistant Professor of Physics Viva Horowitz was working as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard when she began to take a more serious interest in the dynamics of a cell’s cytoplasm. “In physics, we have equations that allow us to model things and predict how things will move,” Horowitz said. “And it turns out that the cytoplasm completely breaks those rules — there’s motors pushing things around.”
Careers After Hamilton
Hamilton graduates who concentrated in physics are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:
- Optical Physicist, NASA Headquarters
- Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Navy
- Professor of Physics, University of Michigan
- Materials Science Engineer, United Technologies Carrier Corp.
- Associate Editor, McGraw-Hill
- Engineer, General Motors
- Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Director, Global Financial Systems, Foster Wheeler Corp.
- Physics Teacher, Natick Public Schools
Explore Our Spaces
The Taylor Science Center houses the offices for faculty members in physics. The complex contains an atrium with a coffeehouse, an auditorium, and more than 100 teaching and student research laboratories.
Kate Brown, Chair
Clinton, NY 13323