Department Information


Professors Poynor (Chair), Lombardi, Petasis, Willey

Physics is crucial for understanding the principles that govern our physical world. It studies everything in nature from the formation of the universe, galaxies, and black holes to the unusual way living systems behave. Technological breakthroughs with lasers, liquid crystal displays, and magnetic resonance imaging have had impact in communications, information technology, and medicine. These have revolutionized our lives in a manner that would not have been possible without physics. From the space shuttle to studies of global warming, physicists work at the forefront of science and technology.

It is the goal of the physics department to help students develop strong backgrounds in experimental, theoretical, and computational physics and to learn the scientific method of investigation. As problems become increasingly complex, it has become clear that successful approaches often combine knowledge from different areas. Because much of 21st century physics is interdisciplinary, we endeavor to teach students how to integrate what they learn in their physics courses with knowledge in other fields. We seek to foster within each student an enthusiasm for learning and critical reasoning which lasts a lifetime. We also help students appreciate physics as a human endeavor that is intellectually satisfying. We strive to make our students aware of the responsibilities facing scientists in our contemporary society and learn how to effectively communicate their ideas in both oral and in written form.

Our graduates pursue a variety of careers or continue graduate studies in various disciplines. Some of our students choose to apply their major in either elementary or secondary public or private school teaching. Students choosing to pursue teacher preparation and certification in physics should contact the physics department and the Coordinator of Teacher Education Programs.

Beginning Courses in Physics: Students planning to to major in Physics or to complete the 3/2 Engineering Program should begin with the PHYS 110PHYS 120 sequence.

Learning Outcomes for Physics Courses

Students who successfully complete courses in Physics are expected to:

  • Develop better quantitative skills;
  • Appreciate the methods of experimental science if taking a lab course.

Cooperative Engineering Program

Students who participate in a cooperative engineering program (3-2 engineering) with a major in Physics are normally required to take 32 semester hours in Physics including the Junior Seminar. These students should begin their study of Physics with PHYS 110. In some cases students in cooperative engineering programs may take less Physics credit at Allegheny and additional physics courses while at engineering school. They must also complete an introductory chemistry sequence and one semester of computer science.

Academic Bulletin

Visit the Academic Bulletinfor information on all majors, minors, and other programs at Allegheny college.

Visit the Allegheny College Academic Bulletin