Physics

Matter, energy, space, time

Physics provides a rich framework for appreciating the universe as well as a system for explaining the phenomena within it. Physics at Roanoke offers you a close-knit community, challenging coursework and the opportunity for genuine scientific investigation. Because physics impacts discoveries in astronomy, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, geology and biology, you'll be encouraged to pursue meaningful connections across the curriculum.

Whether you're a first-year student or an upper-level minor in physics, research experiences with individual faculty mentors abound.

Graduates in physics prosper in the employment market and graduate school programs, with recent students going on to excel in engineering, computer science, law and, of course, physics.

We offer both a major and a minor in physics.

Roanoke physics majors Cam Cassady '14 and Chris Valentine '15 spent the summer engaged in research at Oak Ridge National Laboratories near Knoxville, Tenn. Under the direction of ORNL scientist Matthew Blackston and Roanoke physics Professor Matt Fleenor, their summer research focused on coded-aperture imaging, an indirect technique used in astronomy, medicine and nuclear security to observe materials that emit high-energy particles.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • PHYS 203: Modern Physics
  • PHYS 299: Astrophysics 
  • PHYS 458: Optics & Spectroscopy 

    View all courses 

“Rather than being a vague face in a sea of students, each student receives personal attention, creating an excellent classroom environment and allowing for valuable research experiences.”

Jake Bennett ’08, physics graduate and current postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University

Our grads work at great organizations

Many opportunities for independent study

Physics of Nanotechnology: Daniel Ballou synthesized Goethite nanotubes.

Physics of Galaxy Formation: David Guynn studied the influence of environment on galaxy clusters.

Physics of Material Science: Anne Kyner analyzed Mossbauer data from planet Mars.

Roanoke College physics majors have been valedictorian 3 times in the last 15 years.

Peering into the nano world

The Physics Group has purchased a high-resolution atomic force microscope (AFM). This instrument can produce high-resolution images of structures that are 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. Physics students and faculty use the AFM for mapping micro and nanostructures, studying surface properties of thin films, and manipulating matter at the nanoscale.

Who wants to lay on a bed of nails?

Professors hold a math and physics "magic" show to show off a few cool tricks, including laying on a bed of nails.