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:

This course is a survey of some of the interesting ways in which fine art intersects math and physics. The curriculum consists of six topics in which some juxtaposition of physics and art is present; in some cases physics is relevant to the context of the art, in some case to the content of the art, and in some cases, both. We begin with some of the earliest works of art and proceed chronologically, including cave paintings and radiocarbon dating, the Archimedes palimpsest and imaging techniques, and the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock and their connection to chaotic motion and fractals.

The first semester of a sequence of physics courses for students interested in physical sciences, math or engineering. Normally the first course for students who plan to major or minor in physics. Introduction to principles governing the motion of a particle and of systems of particles. Kinematics and dynamics; energy, linear momentum, angular momentum and conservation laws. Introduction to the laws of special relativity. 

Wave-particle duality, the nuclear atom, the development of Schrödinger’s wave mechanics and the quantum theory of atoms. 

An introduction to the physics and mathematics of space-time geometry including Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity with applications to black holes, gravitational waves, and cosmology.

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

Gordon Jones

Stone Professor of Natural History, Chair of Physics, Director of Chemical Physics


neutron spin filters and angular correlations in neutron decay

fractal analysis of Jackson Pollock drip paintings; theoretical cosmology; and non-Hermitian quantum mechanics

Charles Collett

Assistant Professor of Physics


Experimental condensed matter, electron spin resonance spectroscopy and related electronics, computations and simulations to improve both research and teaching

Viva Horowitz

Assistant Professor of Physics


experimental condensed matter

Amani Jayakody

Assistant Professor of Physics


Experimental condensed matter physics

Adam Lark

Associate Professor of Instruction for Physics


exoplanet detection, physics education research, and electronics

Seth Major

Litchfield Professor of Astronomy


quantum gravity, quantum geometry, general relativity and quantum gravity phenomenology

Megan Marshall Smith

Assistant Professor of Instruction in Physics


computational physics, black holes, and astrophysical plasmas

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 Hamilton Stories

Maggie Maselli ’24

On Pointe with Physics

Many students weigh how to balance their contrasting interests, whether they be STEM, the arts, or the humanities. Maggie Maselli ’24, however, has found the key to combining all of these seemingly different disciplines.

Viva Horowitz

Horowitz, Scheuing ’23 Co-Author Paper

“Validating an algebraic approach to characterizing resonator networks,” co-authored by Viva Horowitz and Trevor Scheuing ’23, was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Jacob Sichlau '23

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.


Department Name

Physics Department

Contact Name

Gordon Jones, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

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