Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sewanee: the University of the South provides a variety of stimulating opportunities to learn about the world around us: from everyday phenomena and modern-day technologies, through the vastness of outer space and minuteness of the nano-realm, to the bizarre quantum-relativistic fabric of physical reality. Fueled by curiosity and dedicated to excellence in teaching and research, Sewanee's Physics and Astronomy faculty often involve like-minded students in their diverse scholarly pursuits, which include hunting for asteroids and extrasolar planets; nuclear and accelerator physics; biophysics; materials characterization; simulation, fabrication, and optical studies of functional nanomaterials.

At the University of the South, a focused physics education fits naturally within the liberal arts and sciences environment that forms the core of the Sewanee experience. Students who take our physics and astronomy courses develop a robust understanding of fundamental physical principles—the essence of “how the world works”—as well as valuable reasoning, problem-solving, and experimentation skills. Our Physics majors also delve into advanced theoretical topics, utilize research-grade instrumentation and data analysis tools, participate in faculty-led and independent research projects, both on campus and at other institutions, presenting their findings at department seminars and national conferences.

In a nutshell, a Sewanee Physics degree helps a student develop a self-reinforcing set of observational, experimental, troubleshooting, analytical, computational, communication, and collaborative skills. Undergraduate students who possess those skills often find themselves actively sought after by graduate and professional schools, government research institutions, and a wide spectrum of private-sector employers. Indeed, alumni of our department have embarked on a variety of fulfilling careers, propelled by the “physics” of their Sewanee experience.