Physics and Astronomy Department


Come join a continuum of theory and experimentation that stretches back for centuries.

At Saint Mary’s, we’re devoted to training the next generation of groundbreaking physicists and astronomers. In our diverse, tight-knit community, you’ll sharpen both your analytic and computational abilities to observe and interpret physical phenomena, while also employing the scientific method to understand and describe nature in its most elementary form

You’ll have numerous opportunities to make discoveries alongside our world-renowned faculty or while studying abroad during Jan Term. Our students have helped research everything from the formation of stars to the mystery of cosmic voids. With Saint Mary’s small class sizes, student-centered laboratory activities for introductory courses, and discussion-driven courses, you’ll receive plenty of personalized attention as you pursue your unique interests and aspirations.

Student Jared Ralleta '24 in the desert, where he was working as part of a NASA project

Jared Ralleta '24 Built A Tool Astronauts Can Use On The Moon, Mars, and Beyond

A first-gen college student, Ralleta was the sole undergrad researcher at RISE2, a NASA-funded expedition in the New Mexico desert that tests out tech for future space exploration. “I could only have had this opportunity at Saint Mary’s,” he says.

2 physics students conducting an experiment in lab class


In addition to need and merit-based scholarships, Physics & Astronomy students are eligible for the departmental scholarship.



Interested in being A K-12 STEM teacher? 

Saint Mary's undergraduate students are eligible to apply for Noyce Scholarships. 

Learn more and apply today.


Students standing at Observatory

Summer Research Program

Every summer, Saint Mary’s students have the opportunity to gain hands-on scientific research experience—and get paid for it. In 2021, Physics and Astronomy students partnered with Professor Aaron Lee and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin to explore the birth of stars, using the largest supercomputers in the world.

Physics and Astronomy in Action

student in library

Professor Aaron Lee’s Recent Discussion of the James Web Telescope

You’ve no doubt caught a glimpse of the stunning first images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, providing us all with the truest glimpses of the universe yet. But what are we even looking at? What does it all mean?

Let Aaron Lee, PhD, professor of Physics and Astronomy, be your guide as he compares side-by-side images and walks us through the detailed imaging of a dying star.

Student Engagement Opportunities

Discover the Science Living Learning Community, our on-campus housing exclusively for first-year STEM majors. Or learn about the Pathways to Science Speaker Series, which regularly bring successful, diverse scientists to campus, and the STEM Center, our drop-in tutoring center that supports students in STEM courses—no appointments necessary!

looking up at building