The department hosts a vibrant community of students and faculty brought together by their common interest in physics and astronomy. On average, 12 students per year graduate with majors in either physics or physics with astronomy emphasis. Our five permanent faculty members are dedicated teachers and provide opportunities to learn about physics and astronomy to our majors and other interested students at all levels.

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The department’s faculty members have been very successful in obtaining external research funding from the NSF, the Research Corporation, the Petroleum Research Fund, NASA, and other agencies. Engaged faculty therefore train our students in well-equipped, modern experimental facilities. The external resources are leveraged with additional support for student research from the college. Each summer, a significant fraction of our majors participate in research projects in our department, supported by stipends and with housing subsidized by the college. Other majors travel away from campus to participate in undergraduate research experiences at other institutions.

The urban location of Macalester College and its proximity to the University of Minnesota provide many additional advantages to the department. For example, Macalester students and faculty use experimental facilities at the university that are not available on campus, attend seminars at the university, and collaborate with university faculty on research projects.