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From the Chair

Ready for a challenge? Prepared to dive into the deepest questions about what makes up the universe and how it all works? If so, Vanderbilt’s Department of Physics & Astronomy could be the right place for you! Our faculty and students team up to investigate everything from exotic states of matter like quark-gluon plasmas to the biophysical underpinnings of life, from exoplanets to particle candidates for dark matter, and from the extreme bending of spacetime around black holes to the quantum information systems at the heart of next-generation computing. It’s an exciting time to be a physicist or an astrophysicist, and Vanderbilt researchers are leading the way.

These research teams illustrate one of our department’s best attributes: our deep commitment to one-on-one mentoring. Whether that is a graduate student helping a freshman get started on a research project, a faculty member helping that graduate student hone the experiments building toward her Ph.D., or a senior faculty member advising a new faculty member on writing grant proposals, it all comes down to one shared value: the importance of making this grand adventure accessible and inclusive for all. Explore our website to learn about the curricula for our undergraduate major in physics, our minors in physics or astronomy, and our Ph.D. programs in physics or astrophysics.

Our upper-level classes are generally small, and our faculty includes several award-winning teachers. Our students absorb a tremendous amount in the classroom, and when combined with the one-on-one mentoring they receive, they are strongly positioned for whatever they want to do next. Our graduates gain admission to some of the finest graduate programs and medical schools in the nation. Yes, physics can definitely prepare you for med school or even law school, and those who enter the job market have found great opportunities at national labs, at NASA, and in academia, engineering, and a wide array of data analytics. Employers know that physics and astronomy students have the skills needed to take on the most challenging knowledge-economy jobs. If you want to know more, I’d love to hear from you. And if you are visiting Nashville–a vibrant and growing city well worth seeing–take a moment to walk Vanderbilt’s beautiful leafy campus in the heart of midtown and stop by the department.

We’d love to show you around!



Shane Hutson
Professor of Physics
Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy 


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