Darsa DonelanFaculty

Senior Continuing Assistant Professor in Physics and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies

Darsa Donelan is a senior continuing assistant professor at Gustavus. They have a strong background in physics, mathematics, and the fine arts, having earned an A.A. in Fine Arts from Berkshire Community College in 2006, a B.S. in Physics and B.A. in Math from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2009, and both their M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2016) in Physics from the University of Florida. Their Ph.D. thesis focused on the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

While a graduate student at the University of Florida, Dr. Donelan received several awards for their teaching, including the Wayne Bomstad II Memorial Award for Teaching Assistants and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award. They also received an HHMI summer teaching fellowship to develop and assess cross-disciplinary laboratory modules that combined physics and chemistry through biomedical applications.

Since joining the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016, Dr. Donelan has received several awards for their teaching and contributions to diversity and inclusion, including the Mark H. Anderson Faculty Diversity Award in 2021 and 2022, and the Swenson-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2022. They are the faculty advisor for several student organizations and have conducted research with students on topics such as planetary atmospheres, radio astronomy, and physics education.

Dr. Donelan is also involved in several professional organizations, including NASA's Heliophysics Education Activation Team (HEAT), where they help lead the development of research-based instructional materials for astrophysics taught in introductory and upper-division physics and astronomy courses. They have also participated in and served as a workshop leader for several American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) New Faculty Workshops and Faculty Online Learning Communities. They are part of an AAPT e-Alliance peer mentoring group of other womxn physicists/astronomers, serve as the Chair of the AAPT's Committee on Space Science and Astronomy, and are the Early Career Rep on the Board of Directors for the AAPT.

Dr. Donelan's hobbies include cosplay, drinking tea, playing with their cats, and doing jigsaw puzzles. They have also been recognized for their early career contributions to the AAPT and physics education, receiving the AAPT 2023 Doc Brown Futures Award, which recognizes early-career members who demonstrate excellence in their contributions to AAPT and physics education and exhibit the potential to serve in an AAPT leadership role.


Ph.D. Physics, University of Florida, 2016, M.S. Physics, University of Florida, 2011, B.S. Physics and B.A. Mathematics, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 2009, A.A. Fine Arts, Berkshire Community College, 2006


cats, cosplay, puzzles, space, and tea

Courses Taught

PHY-190 (Engr-Phys Sustainable), PHY-191 (Engr-Physics Lab), and PHY-391 (IS: Astrometry Research)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHY-121 General Physics I Lab 15 2021/FA, 2020/FA, 2019/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, and 2016/FA
PHY-102 Astronomy Lab 13 2023/SP, 2022/SP, 2021/SP, 2020/SP, 2019/SP, 2018/SP, and 2017/SP
PHY-171 General Physics II Lab 12 2023/SP, 2022/SP, 2021/SP, 2020/SP, 2019/SP, 2018/SP, and 2017/SP
PHY-102 Astronomy, Cosmology, and Astrophysics 6 2023/SP, 2022/SP, 2021/SP, 2020/SP, 2019/SP, and 2018/SP
PHY-120 General Physics I 4 2021/FA, 2020/FA, 2019/FA, and 2018/FA
PHY-122 General Physics I with Calculus 4 2021/FA, 2020/FA, 2019/FA, and 2018/FA
EDU-247 Science for Elementary Educators Lab 3 2020/SP, 2019/SP, and 2018/SP
PHY-196 Cosmic Universe Lab 3 2019/FA, 2018/FA, and 2017/FA
PHY-191 Engr-Physics Lab 2 2022/FA
EDU-246 Science for Elementary Educators I 2 2019/FA and 2018/FA
EDU-247 Science for Elementary Educators II 2 2019/SP and 2018/SP
PHY-206 Mechanical Univ Lab 2 2018/SP and 2017/SP
PHY-190 Engr-Phys Sustainable 1 2022/FA
PHY-170 General Physics II 1 2022/SP
PHY-172 General Physics II with Calculus 1 2022/SP
GWS-187 Race, Gender & Science 1 2022/JN
PHY-216 Electromag. Univ. Lab 1 2016/FA