The Department of Physics and Astronomy believes independent research that complements the traditional major courses is an important part of the undergraduate physics major experience. Student-faculty research often takes place full time during the summer months where the student is financially supported by internal or external grants. Students also pursue research during the semester by participating in the Honors Program. Both options allow students to work closely with professors in the specialty area of the professor. Faculty in the department pursue state-of-the-art research in astrophysics, solid state physics, computational physics, theoretical particle physics, and plasma processing of materials (see the list below).
- Professor Cannon is an observational astronomer with a focus on nearby, low-mass galaxies. Students who work with him will study the nature and evolution of these systems.
- One of the most pressing technological challenges facing the world today is the need for inexpensive carbon-free energy.
- James Heyman is interested in experimental condensed matter physics and ultrafast laser spectroscopy.
- Undergraduate students collaborate with Prof. Ter Veldhuis on his NSF-funded theoretical elementary particle research program.
A variety of advanced teaching and research facilities are available to faculty and students to pursue research and projects.
Physics and astronomy majors are required to engage in an original research project as part of their degree requirements, either with Macalester faculty or at another institution.