At Austin College, students learn physics by DOING physics. From the first-year Workshop Physics to the Advanced Research Experience, students explore the exciting fields of physics, astronomy, and engineering with our fun, hands-on learning approaches. Austin College students develop critical technical and leadership skills to become sought-after scientists and engineers for the 21st century.
Did you Know?
- Guest Speaker: Tony Stevens, "Astrophotography" - October 25, 4:30 pm
- Larry Robinson Celebration during Homecoming - October 29
- Homecoming and Family Weekend Star Party - October 29
- Guest Speaker: Posey Leadership Award Winner Sylvia Acevedo, "Career as an Engineer" - November 2
- Student Research Presentations - November 15
- See the Previous Events
Uniquely AC Physics
Diverse, Collaborative Environment
Our students help each other. The atmosphere is collaborative rather than competitive, learning from everyone’s diverse strengths. Many physics majors double-major in another subject, while others are involved in extracurricular activities on campus such as student government, choir, theatre, or athletics. The Society of Physics Students sponsors campus-wide activities including outdoor picnics, telescope star parties, and an annual basketball tournament with physics faculty and students.
Robotics and Advanced Instrumentation. Exploring the Cosmos. Engineering Design with 3D Printing. Nanotechnology. Atmospheric Physics: Upgrading the Austin College Weather Station. We offer cool, nontraditional courses that encourage students to think outside the box and to develop skills for solving 21st century challenges.
At Austin College, you'll conduct authentic scientific research as part of your physics major. You might explore strange behavior in massive stars, intriguing properties of gold at the nanoscale, extreme weather changes on Earth and other planets, or intense time dilation near a black hole. We don't just want you to learn about physics, we want you to do it! Physics majors conduct two research projects with two different professors to gain experience with a variety of research techniques.
All physics majors and minors also participate in Austin College's STEM Teaching and Research (STAR) Leadership program. In this unique program, students develop vital leadership skills in the areas of interpersonal communication, collaborative learning, and problem solving. We hope to develop well-rounded leaders to tack the unknown problems of tomorrow.
- David Baker, Adams Observatory Co-Director, explores extreme stuff on Earth and other planets.
- Curtis Cummins, is the Electronic Instrumentation Technician for the Science Division.
- Andra Petrean, Physics Department Chair, investigates high temperature superconductors and nanofilms.
- Donald Salisbury, is an intellectual descendant of Albert Einstein and focuses on quantum cosmology.
- David Whelan, Engineering Pathways Advisor and Adams Observatory Co-Director, studies the variability properties of intermediate- and high-mass stars.
Austin College offers dual-degree programs in engineering that allow students to study in the liberal arts at Austin College, followed by engineering at one of our partner institutions.
A Future in Physics
Physics grads have gone on to Harvard, Michigan, Rice, Syracuse, Colorado State, LSU, Texas A&M, Stanford, Penn State, MIT, UTD, Northwestern, and Arizona!
They also work at prominent companies, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions, such as Texas Instruments, Apple, Dallas Semiconductor, Washington Safety Management Solutions, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Tyco Electronics Power Systems, Habitat for Humanity, Ft. Worth Independent School District, Austin Peay State University, LSU, and the University of Rochester.
Meet Our Alumni
Allison Schmitz won a Fulbright Scholarship to study general relativity in Barcelona, Spain. This research expanded on her senior honors thesis with Dr. Don Salisbury on quantum cosmology.
Major: Physics – Minor: Math and Chemistry Bio: From a young age, I was drawn to the stars, and by the time I was a teenager, I knew that I wanted to study astronomy. Knowing how beautiful and mysterious the universe is, knowing that we are all made of stardust, knowing all humans are more… [Read More]
The learning experience that Austin College provided me has been INVALUABLE. By providing a completely customizable education that allowed me to select the courses I was interested in and projects I wanted to work on, Austin College prepared me for roles I did not yet know I would take on. I feel that Austin College… [Read More]
Dilini Pinnaduwage, who graduated with a Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard University, completed an honors project in physics with Dr. Larry Robinson as thesis director. The title of her thesis was “Constructing an External Cavity Diode Laser.”
Heather Quantz’s senior honors thesis investigated the vortex dynamics in a single crystal of the high temperature superconductor YBa2Cu3O7-d with Dr. Andra Petrean. Heather presented the results of this work at the Spring 2007 Meeting of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society.
John Donor graduated from Austin College in 2014 with a B.A. in Physics. He received an MS in physics from TCU in 2017 and his PhD is pending in 2020. He currently works as a graduate assistant at TCU in Ft. Worth.
Mark Hagge graduated from Austin College in 2013 with a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics. He went on to participate in a joint MS/MBA Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Electrical Engineering and Business.
My experience at Austin College successfully prepared me for doctoral study. Experiential learning gave me the ability to quickly acclimate to varying teaching modalities used by my graduate professors and developed skills in critical thinking that allowed me to hit the ground running when I begin my dissertation research. I am proud to be an… [Read More]
Nathan Drake conducted research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on dust devil tracks near the North Pole of Mars under the supervision of AC’s own Dr. Baker. His work provided valuable information on possible landing sites for the Mars Phoenix lander, which was published in Geophysical Research Letters, a top-tier scientific journal.