OpportunitiesDepartment of Physics

The physics department emphasizes creating a strong community and providing opportunities for learning and building relationships outside the classroom as a valuable part of your overall college experience. There are numerous opportunities for you to get involved in activities and events outside of your regular coursework and make meaningful connections to other students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community.

Discover the Opportunities with Physics

  • Research Hands on research is a core aspect of your courses all four years. Many physics students do additional research during the academic year or over the summer. These opportunities provide valuable experiences in scientific inquiry, data analysis, and problem-solving. You have the option to work alongside a faculty mentor on an existing research project or propose your own research ideas. Many students also pursue research off-campus through top programs and national awards. Funding for summer and post-graduate research is available from several sources, including major national awards coordinated by the Gustavus Fellowships Office. Physics faculty work one-on-one with you to connect you with research positions either on campus or worldwide.

  • Faculty Advising and Academic Support The physics department is a supportive community of learners that provides the necessary tools and guidance to help you excel in your coursework. Upperclass students offer regular tutoring sessions for one-on-one or small-group assistance in understanding challenging concepts. There are informal study groups for discussing assignments, working through problem sets, and preparing for exams. Faculty are also available outside of class time for questions and guidance or to seek clarification on complex topics.

  • Internships Pursuing an internship in physics offers the opportunity for a valuable experience, career exploration, research opportunities, resume building, exposure to cool locations and activities, and networking possibilities. It can greatly enhance your academic and professional journey, providing you with the skills, knowledge, and connections needed to succeed in your career journey. Many physics students complete a summer internship at the top research labs and companies.

  • Study Away Studying in another country for a semester is a valuable opportunity to gain a global perspective. It is possible to study away with a physics major, especially spring of your junior year. Recent study away locations include Australia, Sweden, and Chile. Talk with your faculty advisor so you can plan together how to include this immersive learning experience into your college plan.

  • Student Organizations Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society is the national physics honor society. Nomination and election are by the faculty, based on a combination of student achievement in coursework, research, and participation in department activities.

    The Society of Physics Students is an active club that helps students connect with one another and with faculty. The chapter plans regular activities, including the popular Science on Saturdays doing experiments with local elementary kids.

    Womxn in Physics provide resources and support to students who are typically underrepresented in physics and STEM.

  • Student Awards The Department of Physics annually announces several awards and scholarships recipients to recognize and encourage students in their pursuit of careers in physics. These awards celebrate the achievements of students and are recognized at the Honors Day Convocation each spring.

  • Facilities The physics department at Gustavus provides a well-equipped and student-oriented facility to support the academic and research needs of its physics majors. Olin Hall offers a range of dedicated spaces and equipment for student use. This includes physics student offices, fabrication areas and equipment for designing, building, and testing projects, laboratory spaces and state-of-the-art lab equipment like lasers, fiber optics, superconductors, and high-resolution nuclear detectors, and research equipment like x-ray diffractometers, scanning electron microscopes, ultra-fast pulsed lasers, and atomic and molecular trapping chambers. Plus, the upper level and roof of the building is equipped with numerous telescopes.

  • Alumni Network The strong connection between alumni, faculty, and current students in the physics department creates a supportive and engaged community. The involvement of alumni in lectures, career guidance, and mentoring is invaluable for the professional development and success of current students.

  • Career Paths and Graduate School A physics degree provides a strong foundation in analytical thinking, problem-solving, and quantitative skills that are highly sought after in today's job market. The physics department faculty provide resources and support as you explore the jobs or graduate school after leaving Gustavus. Engaging in professional development and participating in physics organizations can greatly enhance your understanding of the field, provide networking opportunities, and keep you updated on the latest advancements.