Majors & Minors


The scope of the discipline of physics is wide, arguably the widest of all the sciences, since physics deals with all forms of mass-energy and their inter-relationships.  Based on the belief that nature is fundamentally knowable, the study of physics seeks to understand the behavior of the universe through systematic observation, theoretical modeling, and experimentation. 


Steve Alexander

Professor & Chair



Steve Alexander

Professor & Chair


Intellectual and philosophical curiosity drives physicists to explore everything from subatomic particles, atoms and molecules, to baseballs, humans and airplanes, to atmospheres, solar systems and galaxies, and beyond.  Understanding the physical principles of our world has led to the development of an extraordinary range of technological applications, from the computer at your fingertips to the global network through which it’s connected.

With specialties in geophysics, atmospheric physics, mathematics and quantum physics, our faculty offers students a rich, in-depth array of courses for those interested in either a major or minor in physics or our three-year, dual-degree Applied Physics Pre-Engineering Pathway or to simply explore the field while at Southwestern.

Physics students and faculty also have the incredible opportunity to use the Fountainwood Observatory for research and coursework. Thanks to a donation to the Department by Max Allen, a local engineer, builder and amateur astronomer, our observatory houses a research-quality reflecting telescope complete with a digital CCD camera for taking images able to be viewed and processed on a computer.

Students in our department go on to follow a variety of different career and life paths including physics-related careers, careers in engineering or other science fields, teaching, and just about any occupation or pursuit to which they bring the knowledge gained through the exploration of the methods and results of modern science.


Physics News

Rendering of Fondren Jones Science Center Phase II

Southwestern Officially Breaks Ground on Phase II of Fondren-Jones Science Center

On February 2, 2018, Southwestern University officially broke ground on the second phase of a $37 million-dollar expansion to the Fondren-Jones Science Center. The project is expected to be completed and ready to welcome students in the fall of 2019.

Dr. Mark Bottorff

SU Professor Mark Bottorff Traveled to Wyoming to Experience “Sublime, Metaphysical” Total Solar Eclipse

The recent total solar eclipse generated plenty of excitement across the entire country, but for Bottorff the event was much more than an excuse to wear funny glasses.

NIST Yash Gandhi Class 2019

Southwestern Senior Returns from Second Summer at NIST

Sometimes being a known entity is the best way to land a job.