Academics

Interested in a major in Physics and Astronomy? Have a look at the Tracks in the Physics Major information (rev. Spring 2014) compiled by the department.

Courses in physics and astronomy give you a chance to explore the interactions of matter and energy at the deepest level, in contexts ranging from the subatomic to the cosmic.The discipline has also provided insights that have fundamentally shaped Western thought in philosophy, religion, history, and politics. Our courses teach problem-solving, reasoning, and experimental skills that are extremely valuable in other academic disciplines, the job market, and everyday life. Graduates with physics degrees achieve success in a diverse range of fields, including engineering, medicine, aerospace, and business.

Our courses teach problem-solving, reasoning, and experimental skills that are extremely valuable in other academic disciplines, the job market, and everyday life.

Our Pomona Physics and Astronomy Department is dedicated to providing the best possible courses in undergraduate physics and astronomy. This includes our introductory sequences in Physics, which make use of laboratory experiences developed here in Claremont, and an advanced sequence that makes use of our Six Ideas that Shaped Physics curriculum, written by Pomona College’s Thomas Moore. Our upper level courses feature advanced laboratories that make full use of our facilities, and which allow students to design and conduct their own experiments. Many of our upper level theoretical courses include tutorials, where students are taught in groups of two or three, and where they lead presentations of derivations for advanced physics formulae.

This magneto-optical trap is used in Dr. Whitaker's Bose-Einstein Condensate lab

Our eight permanent faculty do lively research in a variety of areas, including nanotechnology, Bose-Einstein condensates, biophysics, and observational astrophysics using both ground-based and space telescopes. Our extraordinary facilities for research include a research-grade 1-meter telescope at the mountaintop site known as Table Mountain and a scanning electron microscope, and tunneling microscope. Our rich and innovative curriculum explores topics ranging from the physics of music to general relativity and cosmology. Our graduates include not only academic and industrial research scientists, but also doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, and movie/TV technicians. Physics and astronomy provides mental tools for success in a wide range of fields!

Learning Objectives

  • Students will understand the important conceptual models used in the core subject areas of physics and demonstrate their ability to correctly draw logical conclusions from these models and use them to make accurate quantitative predictions in realistic situations.
  • Students will understand a broad range of experimental and data-analysis techniques and demonstrate their ability to use these techniques in both designing and conducting scientific experiments and observations.
  • Students will develop certain fabrication skills useful in the field, such as the ability to design and construct electronic circuits and other experimental devices.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, understand, and critically analyze the physical ideas presented in published textbooks and journal articles.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to present information clearly, logically, and critically, both orally and in writing.
  • Students will demonstrate both understanding and the practical application of the ethical standards implicit in science, such as appropriate attribution of ideas, good record-keeping, and truthful presentation of data and conclusions.
  • Students will be fully prepared for graduate study in physics or astronomy and/or careers in scientifically oriented jobs in the public or private sector.