Observatory hero

About

Inquiry into the universe itself.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Valparaiso University is dedicated to the study, research, and instruction of the most fundamental structures of the physical universe.

Professors and students seek to find and to characterize orderliness in a seemingly complex environment — from the most elementary constituents of matter to objects of the astronomical realm.

Focused on you

The department consists of six full-time faculty and two senior research faculty members who are engaged in teaching and research with Valpo students. Our mission is to help you learn the physics and astronomy you need to confidently advance to the next steps in your path, whether that’s graduate school, professional school, or directly to a career. We teach, mentor, and advise you every step of the way.

Grounded in Research

Physics and Astronomy study the way the universe works, which must be done through experimentation, observation, modeling, and analysis. Our curriculum weaves lab experiences through every year, culminating in a senior project of your own design. You also get access to join with our faculty in performing cutting-edge research that addresses current questions in science. Each summer, the department hires students as research assistants, providing a stipend and on-campus housing. These students work on projects that are funded by external grant agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, and that can even lead to co-authorship on published journal articles.

Astronomical Resources

Perhaps no other single intellectual endeavor captures the imagination of human beings like the study of stars and galaxies in the night sky. At least part of this fascination is kindled by an interest in discovering the earth’s connection to the rest of the vast universe.

To develop this innate interest, the department offers a major in astronomy, access to telescopes in Indiana, Arizona, Chile, and the Canary Islands, and several research opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics. The department also offers classes and open-house programs for students of other majors and for the wider community.

A Sense of Purpose

At Valpo, study and research is motivated by a conviction that there is an underlying order, symmetry, and beauty in nature, which we believe are God’s manifestations. The Department of Physics and Astronomy therefore strives to:

  • communicate this knowledge and its limitations
  • motivate students to achieve a greater understanding, appreciation, and support of scientific inquiry
  • overcome widespread scientific illiteracy
  • and promote the development of morally responsible citizens, concerned about our environment and our society.
 University Assessment Practices