Physics involves the determination of the basic laws which allow one to predict natural behavior; indeed, physics originates from the Greek word for nature. These basic laws form the foundation for all the sciences. The department offers a program for physics majors, pre-engineering students, students who require a physics cognate and non-science students. The faculty have backgrounds in atomic, nuclear and solid state physics and in electronics. Students have the opportunity to participate in faculty research projects such as neutron activation analysis, environmental radiation monitoring, photodetachment of negative ions, mesoscopic patterned magnetic thin films and computational physics. Facilities include computer-aided laboratories, an x-ray diffraction system, a 50 kV negative ion accelerator, a low-level nuclear gamma ray counting system, a 14-inch Celestron telescope with a CCD camera, and a historically significant Alvan Clark telescope in the observatory.
Students have participated in summer research programs at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Notre Dame, Stanford and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Recent graduates have attended graduate schools at MIT, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, California Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley and Stanford, among others.